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f BLACK LUST hy Jean de Villiot 

The love and hate of a white woman for a black Mohammedan 
chief forms the overtone of this historic novel whose back- 
ground paints the native tribes in the Valley of the Nile before 
the turn of this century. This diabolic novel is an encyclopedia 
of venery, a kaleidoscope of perversions, a jungle of horrors. 
Limited to 2000 press-numbered copies. 

\ CHASTITY BELTS by Esar Levine 

The only full-length account ever written of one of the strangest 
methods devised to bridle the privates of women. This volume 
is a factual encyclopedia of the subject for the author has in- 
cluded anecdotes, secret memoirs, court trials, short stories, news- 
paper accounts and numerous full-page illustrations of these belts. 

Limited to 2000 press-numbered copies. 

by Nicholas Fromaget 

A fascinating novel of oriental passion dealing with a French- 
man's amatory adventures in Turkey. The protagonist is an in- 
satiable lover who slakes his lust at every opportunity and whose 
venereal hazards reveal the extravagance of harem sexuality and 
the parts played by eunuchs and odalisques. 
Limited to 2000 press-numbered copies. 

f MADAME SEX by Dr. Isaac Goldberg 

Modern sex psychology has opened the door to a new gallery of 
women, passion-driven erotomaniacs of different types. This is 
the first collection of short stories ever written about them. Grue- 
some perversions rub shoulders with normal love, while the comic 
profundity of these stories recalls Pantagruel and Panurge. 
Limited to 2000 privately printed copies. 


This immense history is the most documented work on erotics 
ever published by the Panurge Press. The author's enormous re- 
searches and lengthy textual matter, and his hundreds of notes 
and annotations, comprise the most comprehensive guide on the 
worship of obscene Gods and phallic religions. 
Limited to 2000 privately printed copies. 

% EROTIC FAIRY TALES by the Abbe de Voisenon 

These superlative fairy tales are for adults only. They discuss 
the eternal batde of the sexes and are liberally sprinkled with high 
lights on marital indelicacies, the higher mysteries of esoteric pas- 
sion, complicated cuckoldry, sophisticated tomfooleries, indiscreet 
virgins, and hilarious erotic adventures of all sorts. 
Limited to 1000 press-numbered copies. 

by Carlisle E. Viman 

This work deals with Arabic love-life in the most intimate and 
serious way, quoting hundreds of holy sheiks and others on the 
most esoteric phases of physical love-making. It includes fas- 
cinating miscellanea on curious sexualia, electuaries, erotic tales, 
aphrodisiacs, facetious folklore, and al munkir. 
Limited to 2000 privately printed copies. 

f THE MERRY NIGHTS of Straparola 

This collection of panurgic stories is a veritable handbook on 
amorous intrigue but it is vastly more facetious than the Hep- 
tameron or the Decameron. Its contents include Trust Not a 
Friend, The Way of All Wives, A Mistake in the Dark, The 
Revenge Indelicate, Cuckolds Will Be Cuckolds, etc. 

Limited to 1000 press-numbered copies. 

ARE $5.00 EACH 


Of this work, 

the erotic history of France 

and its erotic literature, 

only woo copies have been printed 

for private collectors of 

panurgics and sexualia 









Copyright, i^sSy ^y The Panurge Press, Inc. 
Printed in U.S.A. 




I 27 


II 35 

III 45 



IV 59 

V 75 


VI 93 

VII 114 































XV 220 





XX 280 





THIS book sets itself the interesting and intriguing task of writing 
the erotic history of France and its erotic literature. Perhaps 
someone will inquire why we choose such a theme, and what profit 
is to be derived from a knowledge of the numerous piquant and 
gallant details that we shall meet on our quest. It is possible, too, that 
some reader will wonder about the latter part of the title: The 
History of French Erotic Literature. What is the justification for 
this phrase? Let us spend a few moments now in trying to under- 
stand why France should be chosen as the subject of an erotic 
history; why the history of the vast system of practices connected 
with the most unbridled and diverse expression of sex life in the land 
of the Gauls is of importance for us. Then we shall be in a position 
to realize the tremendous value of French erotic writings, which 
shall be our guides in our expedition through this land of love. 

It is a nice question whether there is an essential and an all- 
pervasive difference between the different races of mankind. But 
whatever be the truth about this very moot question, it is an indis- 
putable fact that France has for many centuries been renowned as 
the home par excellence of eroticism, and Frenchmen as the typical 
representatives of the erotic spirit and practitioners of the erotic art. 
This by no means implies that there is something inherent in the 
French which impels them to this type of activity. We are merely 
stating a fact which can be buttressed by numerous phenomena, 


historical and sociological. Many investigators have asserted the fun- 
damental unity of all nations, and have even denied that there has 
been any development through the course of history, by which mod- 
ern men, for instance, have come into the possession of new traits of 
character or elements of physical structure. The French critic — 
Remy de Gourmont — has gone so far as to develop a quasi-law of his- 
tory which claims that in all ages and in all climes men are alike, and 
the same diversities which separated classes of men and individuals 
at a bygone age are still observable today, mutatis mutandis. 

If this view is true, and we incline to believe that it is, then the 
sources for the development and importance of the erotic motif 
in French culture are to be led back not to certain structural 
peculiarities of the French people but to certain peculiarities in 
their history and sociological organization. Just at what date these 
traits first became manifest it is difficult to assert with precision. 
During the Renaissance period, when new blood began to run in 
the veins of the awakened and enlightened Europeans, and the first 
fruits of the new culture became documented in literature, we are 
already able to discern the strength of this motif. Of course at this 
time other nations of Europe, the Italians principally and also the 
Germans, were producing similar works. Indeed, the beginning of 
this literature as forsooth of the whole drive and potency of the 
Renaissance is to be seen in Italy; but at any rate this direction 
manifested in literature was the reflection of tendencies continued, 
developed, and augmented which at a later date made France the 
mundane residence of Venus in Europe. 

There are so many items which testify to the importance of 
France in this connection that it is difficult— nay, impossible — ^to 
list them all. Only a few facts and illustrations will now be cited 
as witnesses to the truth of our contention. We appeal first to the 
testimony of language. The existence of certain words in a language 


prove that institutions represented by these words are found among 
the people speaking that language. If these words have been bor- 
rowed by other languages, it is clear that the institutions were 
borrowed from the people who first employed these words. Thus, 
many musical terms show their Italian origin; psychological terms 
their German origin; etc. Characteristically enough, the greatest 
number of erotic words spring from French. 

Furthermore, France has long been recognized as the source of 
all types of art and literature connected with the erotic sphere. In 
modem times, France has been the producer of novels, tales and 
dramas dealing in divers ways and from exceedingly varied view- 
points with sexual love. France exported these products to every 
other nation of the world. Why is it, for instance, that when we 
think of the French influence we immediately conjure up certain 
notions about the naughtiness and venereal escapades of its char- 
acters.5 Why is it that the majority of erotic books are French? 
Why is it that naughty picture cards and various other indecent 
drawings have been marketed to the rest of the world from France.^ 
Do not these facts serve to bolster up the truth of our contention 
about the primacy of France in the erotic realm! 

Finally, Paris has long been the center of modes in dress for the 
world, from which new modes are dictated and the chic of the 
world created. Any adult who has tried to understand the delirious 
and apparently chaotic alternation of modes and fashions and de- 
signs, especially in women's clothing, will conclude without any 
shadow of a doubt that the anthropologist is right. The latter con- 
tends that clothes were not invented because women were modest, 
but because they were immodest. That is, women did not cover 
their nakedness because they were disturbed at being seen in full 
view. Women concealed part of their anatomy in order to make 
themselves more seductive. In short, women concealed those por- 


rions of themselves which were not altogether esthetically satisfac- 
tory in order to increase their charm for men. Now when women 
reveal their nakedness today, or carefully selected and pampered 
portions of their nakedness, they are carrying out this motive attrib- 
uted to them by the student of human evolution. Fashions change, 
apart from the sheerly economic motives of profit to designers and 
manufacturers of clothing, because it is necessary for new attrac- 
tions to be revealed to unsuspecting man: a little more of the leg or 
a little less — a little more of the breast or a little less — a little differ- 
ent outline to the female form, more flesh or less — these are the 
dominant motivations for the unaccountable panorama of the mode. 
Is it, therefore, to be wondered at that Paris, which more than any 
other city in the world has cultivated the erotic, and has undergone 
a long and rigorous schooling in indulging every whim and every 
taste in the erotic, is also the arbiter of destiny in fashion? 

These remarks on the importance of France as the center of 
erotic activity in the Occident during modem times will serve 
to justify the present project of writing an erotic history of France. 
We are now ready to take up the question about the sources of 
this history. To what materials or phenomena shall we turn for 
information about the successive stages of this development? There 
are many possible procedures. 

One might go through the files of French legal archives and 
select all matters connected with the erotic realm. If we were to 
trace all laws, injunctions, prohibitions, litigations, etc. connected 
with this field, and then systematize and analyse them, we should 
certainly be on the way to tracing the history of these questions 
in France. Thus we might trace all the laws connected with the 
regimentation of brothels and prostitutes and thus arrive at the 
history of this question; or we might collect all references to incest, 
both prohibitions or records of cases, and thus develop the history 

of this aspect of erotic affairs, all the while proceeding on the 
very obvious assumption that whatever becomes recorded in the 
law is not an abstract invention or speculation but rather a record 
of actual existing conflicts in human affairs. 

Closely allied to this procedure would be the analysis of the 
church's reaction to the domain of sex. If we were to collect the 
sermons, pamphlets, etc., composed on these themes, and if we 
were to collate the decisions of ecclesiastical bodies concerning 
the erotic, we should have an enormous mass of materials for tracing 
the history of this problem. 

Another approach would be through the realm of medicine, 
medical history and vital statistics. Using this road we might for 
instance, examine all available records concerning the origin and 
spread of syphilis in France, and by tracing the distribution of 
this plague throughout France, and the references to it in various 
sources, we should be in a position to understand the significance 
of this malady and draw some conclusions about the conditions 
responsible for it. This would be a clear contribution to the erotic 
history of France and a compilation of such monographs would 
undoubtedly form a corpus of writings of great importance. 

Another way would be to collect the low linguistic usages, the 
"bad words" of the French language, and by examining the data 
of speech, endeavor to determine where and whence certain words 
entered the language. By doing so and by studying the semantic 
changes in those words which have taken on a new and erotic 
coloring, we could write the erotic history of France from the 
philological point of view. This effort would be considerably 
supplemented by the cognate activity of collecting the folk songs 
and proverbs of the land, which would generally afford us fuller 
insights than single words. 

Or we might make a collection of objects connected with the 


domain of sex, all sorts of appliances for aiding and augmenting 
carnal pleasures, for abetting the normal and appeasing the perverse 
impulse. Such a collection properly labeled and understood, would 
be an invaluable museum for the illustration of actual practices 
to professional men and sociologists. 

We come at last to a different method. If we were to examine 
all the paintings and sculptures that are concerned with love, naked- 
ness, sex activity, etc., we should have an excellent method of 
seeing the impact of this problem upon successive ages. We are, 
therefore, now no longer dealing directly with the materials of 
sex life or their relation to legal, ecclesiastical, or medical history, 
but rather with their reflection in the mirror of art. The painter 
and sculptor hold the mirror up to nature, and the glimpses they 
capture and fix, remain forever. We can read to all eternity the 
message they wrote. The literary figure we have just employed 
brings us to another and perhaps the greatest art — the art of letters. 
There may be great and far reaching changes in literature as well 
as in the other arts. But after all, the meaning with which words 
are laden cannot be dispelled and forgotten. The word heard and 
spoken afar off, retains for us today, a goodly portion at least, of 
the efficacy and verity it possessed then. Hence, we shall choose 
to trace the erotic history of France as reflected chiefly in its 
literature, the most potent of the productions of men. We shall 
not altogether overlook the other methods we have enumerated, 
and whenever possible shall employ them, but primarily our concern 
is with what French writers, poets and prosaists, wrote; what they 
saw and immortalized in their words. 

The Gallic spirit was well equipped to treat of these themes, 
indeed, in a fashion unexampled among other nations. What do 
we think of in the complex of vague notions that are comprised in 
Vesprit gaulois? A certain clarity and lucidity combined with a 


marvellous grace and finished levity. Freedom, wit, polish, are 
not these the inevitable characters of the French mind and lan- 
guage? Hence, in dealing with the enormous mass of materials 
connected with the most dominant impulse of living things after 
food-hunger, which among human beings may assume forms and 
consequences awful and unspeakably nasty; in addition to being 
responsible for exquisite joys, and happy, ordered lives, can we 
not see the importance of the French gifts of mind? It is their 
grace, and charm and wit that lightens serious issues; and their 
lucidity that clarifies them to us in proper perspective. The love 
of leisure of these people, their joy in the exercise of the body in 
all its senses, and of the mind in all its capacities — these qualities 
have made France one of the greatest and wisest nations in Christen- 
dom. And if we cannot condemn too severely their sexual un- 
restraint and perversities, let us remember that their high and 
ennobling virtues vastly outweigh their eroticism. 

The merry French people love words and are happy in the 
exercise of the pen. They love their language as no other nation and 
for many centuries have so cultivated it until it has become the 
most flexible instrument in the hands of the trained writer. In 
France, one can say everything — and that which is said is tolerable 
even to the modest ear, because the magic of the language enables 
one to overlook the subject matter. On the whole, the opinion of 
Engel, expressed in his Psychology of French Literature, is quite 
true: that the preponderance of sexual matters in French literature 
is much less to be attributed to unrestrained lustfulness than to 
the love of laughter. The French are not so much sexually passion- 
ate as sexually witty. The jokes and amorous adventures of the 
middle ages known as fabliaux never show a trace of really glowing 
sensuality. They are smirking tales of doubtful content told and 
punctuated by the laughter of fauns. The everlasting butt of the 


humor in these tales is the deceived husband; and up to this day 
in the very latest boulevard comedies the husband bears the brunt 
of the laughter, even -with a masculine audience. Moreover, Rabelais 
scarcely a page of whose work is free from sexual matters or 
suggestions, has treated the sexual relationship with rough rudeness 
but without any evil intent, without any secondary object, and 
merely as material for the satisfaction of his own love of laughter, 
and that of others. There is no question of earnestness, passion, 
or obscenity. The same is true of another old book, one of the worst 
of this sort: The Hundred Merry Tales of Antoine de la Sale 
in which we discover utter shamelessness, and reckless wit, but 
nothing that resembles real participation by the author in the sensual 
activities of the book. 

Nevertheless, the conclusions of Engel apply to only one part 
of French erotic literature. One need merely mention the erotic 
writers of the eighteenth century: Sade, Bretonne, Dulaurens; and 
such nineteenth century authors as Maupassant, Zola, Flaubert, 
Gautier and Verlaine, to prove that all these poets and authors 
were very much in earnest about their eroticism. For them, it was 
not always the love of laughter, but vital interest in the material 
that directed their pens to their artistic tasks. 

And now one word more concerning the plan of the book. The 
great age of uncontrolled love in France is the eighteenth century. 
More than during the Renaissance, and no less than the classic 
period of antiquity, sex ruled life at that time. Naturally, literature 
mirrored the reign of sex in countless productions which surpass 
any previous or subsequent period in the erotic history of France. 
This representation of the classical age of French love will be the 
climax of the book; the remainder will lead up to and away from it. 
The beginning will treat of the early period in France, the age of 
knighthood and chivalry, the rule of the church and the song of 


the troubadour. There will be passed in review the love court, 
worship of the Virgin, fabhaux, medieval farces and other sexual 
customs of that time. This will lead into the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries which foreshadow even greater vices and sex- 

Then the grand epoch of French love will be presented with its 
multitude of amazing personalities and startling incidents. This 
will be followed by an analysis of the nineteenth century, so near 
to us and still so responsible for so many elements of our life. The 
book will close with the last years of the nineteenth century — for 
most of the works produced by later writers are accessible to 
discerning readers. Perhaps at a later day it will be opportune to 
continue this history through the first decades of our own twentieth 

All through this history there will be included significant surveys 
of the general sexual situation of the times. How free were 
conditions really? What of prostitution? And perversion? What 
were the most popular forms of esoteric amusement? All these and 
many other questions having been disposed of, we shall turn to 
an examination of the literature of the particular periods, first ex- 
amining general trends and then describing the outstanding eroti- 
cists of successive ages. One very unusual feature of this history 
is the emphasis I have laid upon quotations from these erotic 
authors. Not merely are their most important works listed, but 
whenever possible I have given a synopsis of the plot, or quoted 
a typical extract. It is superfluous to indicate the value of this 
procedure. Many of these erotic classics are inaccessible and it is 
certainly necessary, in a serious history of this kind, to describe 
the contents of these works. 

Finally, I must explain that the presentation which follows makes 
no pretence to completeness. Apart from the utter impossibility 


of writing a complete erotic history of France, such an attempt 
would necessitate the insertion of obscene details which it is neither 
my purpose nor pleasure to record. This volume has been written 
for serious adult students of history and I have deliberately ex- 
cluded anything and everything which would appeal to porno- 
graphic-minded readers. For those who may be interested in more 
detailed information, the bibliographical works of Barbier, Brunet, 
Gay and Querard will prove invaluable. 




IT IS important to recognize at the outset of our investigation into 
the erotic history of France that the instinctive endowment of 
men remains unahered through all the ages and climes of the world. 
In our introduction we were concerned to establish the essential 
similitude of human beings in space — that is, to show that despite 
differences of nationality and race the fundamental and inexorable 
instincts are the same for every son and daughter of men. This fact 
must be remembered when we come to study the history of the 
manifestations of the dominant human impulse within the nation of 

This sexual instinct, which its people share alike with the rest of 
the universe, has never throughout the ages suffered change or 
diminution. But in every period it has assumed different manifesta- 
tions depending on the varied sociological conditions. Factors of 
politics and economics, of religion and philosophy, in short, real 
and ideal, served to build the channels for the flow of the stream — 
but the stream kept flowing unabated. Rich and poor, noble and 
serf, learned and ignorant, all were impelled by love and felt its 
sacred or, as the case may be, profane impulsion and acted out 
their instincts. 

Now in the middle ages, what were the dominant forms of 
sexual activity? Or to put the question somewhat differently: how 
did the expression of the sexual instinct and the forms of sexual life 


differ from those current among us today? We all somehow have 
the feeling that in those dim, dark days of the medieval period all 
life was so much in the control of the church, that certainly the 
expression of the most heinous of all the instincts according to the 
church's doctrine must have been suppressed to the point of ex- 
tinction. Before we can answer this question we must look at the 
structure of medieval society. 

There were, as is well known, three strata in this social structure. 
At the top stood the king and his court of nobles, who owned vast 
tracts of land as feudal lords. These fortunate individuals were ex- 
empt from work; all the menial, necessary, productive work of the 
world was accomplished for them by their serfs, whom they owned 
bodily. All that they gave these slaves in return was protection, and 
in those lawless times this was not a small thing; there were continu- 
al wars between rival feudal barons and the life of the common man 
was of no importance. Between these two classes was the clergy, 
who ministered to both the upper and lower group alike, but was in 
inclination and position more nearly akin to the former. 

Now to come back to the question of eroticism. Despite the lip 
service to poverty, chastity and obedience, despite the glorification 
of purit}", the actualization of these ideals remained as impossible in 
the religious middle ages as at other times. Nature can only be 
conquered by obeying her, taught an ancient teacher; and the 
church was to prove for itself the essential verity of these truths. 
Each of the three classes, living on a different level of wealth, po- 
sition, education and opportunity, gratified the sex instinct in its 
own way, but they had this in common: the public religiosity of the 
period which impressed the age, did not alter the course of their 
instincts. The church was very early to realize this and hence their 
institution of the confessional. What is the latter but a shrewd 
compromise with unalterable life? It must be admitted that men will 


sin. If the church is incapable of damming up the flow of passion, 
then let it at least retain some measure of control over its adherents 
by ascertaining where the flood has broken the dikes. Let them 
come and admit their sins. Let the church take cognisance of them 
and inflict some slight penalty for them. But this candid capitulation 
to sin and vice, this recognition of its inevitability, this assignation of 
slight penalties for it, are they not all admissions of defeat.^ Indeed 
are they not even greater incitements to wickedness? For if one can 
get off so lightly, why even make the attempt to live virtuously? 

Let us begin with the lowest class — the serfs. Poor, miserable, 
utterly ignorant, worked to the bone, with their faces ground by 
poverty, the lives of this class were certainly nasty , brutish and short. 
It is no wonder then that there were frequent infractions of virtue 
among them. Here the church exercised its greatest effect but even 
here its success was slight. Chastity, continence, fidelity, were all too 
infrequent, and again and again we shall meet literary testimony to 
these evil conditions. Language was foul and coarse and there was 
a fierce delight in unmitigated ribaldry. Girls and boys lost their 
virginity very young — and hence they were married off as early as 
possible but not always in time, in spite of the hurry. The girls were 
continually at the mercy of the men of the upper classes, and pity 
the pretty or shapely one especially. Life was short and difficult — so 
sin was not infrequent, but the confessional made restitution. The 
poor had their own brothels, and divers other forms of amusement 
of a similar nature. Early they developed the coarse presentations 
which were combinations of miracle play and farce. The life of the 
poor was then what it has always been. 

The general uncertainty of life, combined with the vast and fairly 
unchecked power of the king, and to a lesser degree of his nobles, 
set the pace for their life. It is no wonder that they led licentious 
lives which occasionally assumed titanic proportions. We shall read 


later of the sumptuous gatherings of high born ladies and men where 
the foulest talk circulated; and of the almost unbelievable richness 
and pomp of some of their orgies in which were enacted in the flesh, 
by living actors, the most intimate and passionate scenes. Again, one 
motive for the ItaUan invasion of Charles viii was his desire for 
Italian women, and as we shall see later, he has left us vivid records 
of his incredible exploits with the winsome daughters of Latium. 
But, we are inclined to ask, what of knighthood? Surely there was 
a portion of medieval society which was different, was resplendent 
in its purity and high ideality. Unfortunately we discover to our 
great disillusionment that this institution was ridden by numerous 
foul and vicious elements; that very early whatever nobility there 
may have been in knighthood disappeared, and the service of wo- 
man became pretty confined to one area or function of the woman. 
If the knight did battle for the lady and went to extravagant lengths 
in his ostentatious fidelity to her, like wearing a lock of her hair, it 
was for a purpose. This lock of hair was not infrequently plucked 
from his lady's mons veneris as we shall see later. This institution 
ultimately gave rise to such ugly and pervasive abuses that it had to 

In connection with knighthood and the service of women a word 
should be said about the medieval cult of love which found its ex- 
pression in the Minnesingers. These songs composed by trouba- 
dours and less frequently by knights, are part of the witness to the 
importance of woman and the strength of love even in the middle 
ages. As we shall learn the tone of these songs is none too exalted 
and the most passionate praises are sung to the physical beauties of 
the beloved, and particularly to her sexual attractions. A most inter- 
esting and unusual feature of the middle ages were the so-called 
courts of love. Here tournaments of words are supposed to have 
taken place in connection with questions of love. Or to vary the 


image, and to bring out the full meaning of the title, certain ques- 
tions of the love life, occasionally ideal, but more generally very 
obscene, were argued as though before a court; and at the close of 
the "litigation", a verdict was rendered. These decisions were fre- 
quently later embodied in the actual life of the given groups among 
whom the "court" had been held. 

But if knighthood was not all a flower, the church was not all a 
cloud of sacred incense. Indeed, it would appear as though the most 
consistent and violent transgressions in the sphere of sex were com- 
mitted by those appointed to preach sanctity and exemplify it. The 
idleness, power, and ignorance of the priests combined with their 
unexampled hold upon their flock due to their status, gave them an 
unlimited field for the exercise of their lusts. Outside of the church 
and within it, the minds and bodies of many of the church's servi- 
tors served not the Christ but Priapus. Priests were known as vigor- 
ous lovers and were sought after because of their prowess and 
discretion. Indeed all doors were opened to them. Their churches 
were occasionally even decorated with indecent pictures; and the 
monasteries and nunneries were the homes of the most indiscrimi- 
nate perversions. Many cloisters were virtually brothels. The sup- 
pression upon the sexual instinct of its clergy that the church had 
sought to enforce in its injunction of celibacy proved a boomerang. 
Not only was the body not conquered but the soul was frequently 

Hence it is no wonder that the priest became the target of the 
most vitriolic criticism and condemnation. His immoral life was an 
outrage to any moral sensibility and when there was so much to 
lash, we must not be surprised at the quantity of anti-clerical litera- 
ture or its intensity. This was one of the dominant motifs of medie- 
val erotic literature and has lasted into modem times. Another and 
related theme was anti-royalism. The life of king and court was also 


soaked in pornographic lubricity and its putridity stank to the dis- 
tant clouds. The incessant and multiple erotic diligence and appli- 
cation, the insatiability, cruelty, and folly of king and noble was at 
the base of the mass of anti-royalist writing. Another motif, and in- 
deed one that was prior to the ones just mentioned, was that con- 
nected with the Virgin Mary. This innocent Mariolatry was, as we 
shall presently discover,strangely intertwined with erotical elements 
of all sorts, some of them rather shocking. Indeed, from being the 
symbol of immaculateness and pure unsullied mother love she occas- 
ionally became the patron saint of unchastity. This transformation 
is interesting in correlation with the decay in the service of women 
noted in connection with knighthood. What is most striking in 
many medieval writings is the utter disrespect for women, the un- 
speakably low estimate of the whole female sex, who are representa- 
tive of all that is base and wicked in human nature. This notion, 
partly derived from experience, partly also from the low status of 
woman, was however to a great measure influenced by the circula- 
tion, at this time, of a whole cycle of Buddhist stories. In these of 
course, the poor female of the species is nothing but a sinner and a 
snare for the entire race of men. 

Let us say a word now about the literary forms of medieval 
France in which these records of her erotic life are preserved. A 
good number of these were distinctive of that period and have not 
survived it, while others have been transmitted but have assumed 
different forms. We will content ourselves with a mere mention of 
them here, and leave their explanation and illustration for the next 
two chapters. There are the fabliau (the tale), the farce, the tensor 
(the report of the court of love) the dramatized farce, the chanson 
(lyric) and brothel poetry, and the chronique scandaleuse. 

One final remark about the progress of medieval French erotic 
literature. As we first find it we see something primitive, coarse, un- 


differentiated. In the early periods there are few genres, and in the 
very earliest but one, the fabliaux, aside from the panurgic anecdote 
which circulates among the people. These are rough, rude, and 
have no adumbration of artistic skill. As time goes on and culture 
becomes somewhat more differentiated, more genres develop and 
every type in turn becomes refined and hence amenable to artistic 
treatment. During the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, 
under the influence of the troubadours and knightly gallantry, 
much is achieved. Poetry is developed to a high degree and even 
becomes precious and affected. The lyric poetry of the fifteenth 
century shows sophistication and already gives finished expression 
to satire. It is useful to remember, although it is not entirely relevant 
in this connection, that in this century syphilis began to ravage 
Europe, fixing men's minds to the realm of sex as never before, and 
giving literature many new themes both in tragedy and in satirical 

By the end of this century all the genres of the medieval period 
have been invented and are in active currency. Thus the fifteenth 
century can also show an admirably simple and genuinely homely 
lyricism in Villon for example. The gradual growth of cities and 
the rise of the middle class created a need for a new type of 
writing more suited to the activities of this group. The highfalutin, 
pampered, precious gallantry of knightly writing was no longer to 
the taste of these groups, for it corresponded to nothing in their hfe. 
In the sixteenth century we see by the side of the romance of 
gallantry like Amadis with its false sentimentality, erotic produc- 
tions that are lyric, naturalistic, coarse and finished — in short, eroti- 
cism that covers the whole range of the field. The foulest brothel 
poetry was to be found, but also the most deUcate and tender 
emotional depictions; earnest reflectiveness and lewd buffoonery 
both were to be met in the extensive erotic literature of the century. 


And this plethora of works with all the anti-clerical and anti-royalist 
broadsides and bawdy outlines of sex continued into the seventeenth 
century. The growth and development of all these types was of 
course only a reflection in letters of the intensity and development 
of the actual erotic life in France. We now turn to the history of this 
life as reflected in these literary forms. 



THE literature of the middle ages is undoubtedly much beholden 
to the formation and propagation of the legends clustering 
around the Virgin. The immaculate conception, in particular, occu- 
pied the medieval poets considerably. One gets this impression not 
merely from the frequency with which this matter is referred to, 
but also from the intensity of the efforts many of the poets display in 
espousing and establishing their belief. To what extremes this ado- 
ration of the Virgin could go, may be surmised from the fact that 
the monks of the Order of Mary drank up dish water and licked the 
afflicted parts of lepers in order to show their reverence for their 

Mary first appears in the old French fabliaux and jokes as the 
guardian of virginity; but she frequently also comes to the aid of 
those who have gotten into difficulties of their own making. Thus, 
one of the fabliaux tells of a woman who is surprised by her husband 
as she sports with a cleric. The latter dashes out of bed and hides. 
When the husband lies down beside his wife she jumps out of bed 
and simulates insanity, all the while invoking the virgin; while the 
deceived husband seeks to calm the apparently hysterical wife, the 
cleric departs. 

Although Mary is everywhere represented as the guardian of 
virginity, there is one story of an abbess famed for her piety, chasti- 
ty and service to Mary, who has become pregnant. The night be- 


fore delivery she fervently implores the help of the Virgin to save 
her from the impending shame; whereupon the former accompanied 
by two angels comes and delivers the abbess, keeping her body in- 
tact, and then leaves the child with a hermit. There are other stories 
in which the Virgin aids in illegitimate enterprises, notably the one 
of Caeser of Heisterbach in which she substitutes herself for the lady 
superior who is leading a whore's life outside the cloister. 

The aid of the Virgin is invoked in many other needs and distress- 
es: The young priest who has fallen in love with a young girl calls up- 
on Mary to help him in his suit; and the lover abandoned by his love, 
prays for a change of heart in the beloved, or offers his love to Mary 
who is faithful and never deceives a lover. In this feeling there are 
many sensual elements as numerous fabliaux will attest (collected in 
the book of Coincy ) . Thus Mary reproaches a young priest who has 
been unfaithful to her and reminds him that for love of him she can 
open the heavens and admit him to her private chambers where a 
rich bed holds great pleasures of love in store for them. Or when a 
pious sacristan desires to kiss her feet she presents her face instead. 
Or when a young priest slips a ring on the finger of a statue of Mary 
but becomes unfaithful to her, she soon permits herself to be won 
back for ever, despite her jealousy. In these instances the mother of 
God is entirely divested of her divinity and is regarded merely as 
the loving, yielding woman. 

This conception is rooted in the amalgamation of earthly and 
heavenly love, whose essential characteristics are its duality, and 
the exclusion of any other loves. Man cannot love earthly and 
heavenly beings at the same time; if he chooses the latter, then 
there is an end to loving the daughters of men. Mary takes com- 
plete possession of the lover's emotions and for that reason she con- 
centrates upon herself not merely the heavenly, but also the earthly 


Comparatively early, however, certain frivolous elements ap- 
peared by the side of this reverence for Mary. Faithless women 
invoked her as witness to their "innocence", and the formulas 
were more than coarse. Tor le cul Sainte Marie\ 'por le cul dieu\ 
^par les boiaus sainte Marie' are very frequent; as are also 'par le 
cortez\ 'par les mamelles\ 'par les denz\ 'par la gorge', 'par la teste', 
'par la cuer Sainte Marie\ Among the common people such thought- 
less and frequently vulgar invocation of the Virgin was customary. 
In the church poems of Jesuit Jacob Pontanus, the poet can think 
of nothing more beautiful in Mary than her breasts, nothing sweeter 
than her milk, nothing more excellent than her belly. 

It is easy to understand the great reverence in which she was held 
when one realizes her utter readiness to help even in the most diffi- 
cult situations — a fact continually taught by the priests. Indeed 
when only a simple prayer was necessary to avoid unpleasant con- 
sequences and to snap one's fingers at righteousness, every man and 
woman really received a charter of license. 

It is well known that the later comic poets, especially those 
of Italy and Germany, owe much to the French fabliaux, which 
exercised great influence and inspired a very large number of de- 
rivative works. What is a fabliau? Pilz defines it as the poetic rep- 
resentation of an adventure that takes place within bounds of 
normal Hfe. It belongs to the class of epic, or epic-didactic poetry, 
and its chief aim is to amuse and to arouse laughter. It is this gen- 
eral character which is indicated by the designations employed by 
poets to characterize their works, viz: une trufe, une boiirde, une 
risee, un gab. Later on a moral was gradually added. With few ex- 
ceptions they are composed in octosyllabic rhymed couplets. They 
are the poetry of the rising citizenry as opposed to the ideals of the 
courdy-sentimental poetry. Three elements have participated in 
their formation: the stream of Oriental stories with their Buddhis- 


tic ideal of the contempt of women, the low status of the minstrels, 
and the moral decadence of the clergy. 

The Buddhistic conception denied woman every right and per- 
sonal dignity, regarding her as the inescapable burden of man. She 
it is who keeps him in the bondage of sensuality and thus prevents 
him from achieving the true life. Its pronounced ascetic character 
inclines to emphasize the virtues of celibacy. These notions reap- 
pear in the fabliaux verses in their low valuation of marriage and 
in their tendency to attribute every fiasco and error of the man to 
the woman. 

The motives that actuated the low-born minstrels, to whose sa- 
tiric streak many a fabliau owes its existence, can scarcely be called 
noble. Ostentation, combined with the poverty of the singers and 
the hope for jingling rewards if they would flatter the opinions of 
their audiences, supplied ample material for laughter. This re- 
sulted in a conscious effort to pander to the demands of their pub- 
lic which demanded amusement and which was beginning to feel 
a definite antipathy to the knightly ideal of reverence for women. 
Furthermore, the disrespect of women is also to be attributed to 
the disastrous influence of the clergy from whose pens so many 
fabliaux flowed; celibacy, too, and its consequences were subject 
matter for satire. 

A rude peasantry as yet untouched by refined culture tends to 
seek amusement in relating the occurrences of everyday life, since 
they still lack what seem to us to be higher interests. These tales 
treat of the most natural things, and they always excite the laugh- 
ter of the ignorant peasant whose greatest joy is to play a joke or 
tell about it later. This hearty and even pleasant tone so common 
in German jokes despite their coarseness is alien to the Frenchman 
who toys with everything, titters over everything, is always on 
the lookout for the humorous and pursues it relentlessly with a 


measure of pride in his own superiority. Yet he is not malicious; 
he is merely light and frivolous. Thus he laughs at the stupid hus- 
band who has had horns conferred upon him; for has he not done 
the very same many times? He laughs at the prostitute cheated of 
her hire, and at lovers. He laughs at stories of priests which may or 
may not end happily, because their conduct in erotic matters is so 
rarely in accordance with their cowls and calling. Above all, his 
laughter is aroused by the cunning of women, their sensuality, 
their fickleness, falsehood, wantonness and gluttony. In most of 
the fabliaux the whole story turns on an erotic situation and the 
erotic joke is rarely lacking. The greatest joy is derived from those 
obscene stories where woman is drawn in the blackest colors pos- 
sible. This leads us to the conclusion that these stories must usually 
have been recited in the absence of those censured. 

Many of these tales excel in obscenity — and a few of the im- 
portant ones will now be mentioned. Le sot Chevalier treats of a 
stupid knight who is instructed by his mother-in-law in his marital 
duties. In La demoiselle qui ne povoit oir parler de f outre, a young 
man learns of the daughter of a certain knight who can't hear the 
word f outre spoken without falling into a faint. He decides to try 
his luck with her and offers his services to that knight. He is very 
well received for the reason that he too becomes unconscious when- 
ever he hears lewd words. The girl falls in love with him and they 
become a happy pair. De la demoiselle qui neot parler de fotre qui 
fi'aust mal au cuer treats of a similar situation. For his Bijoux indis- 
crets, Diderot borrowed from the work of Garin: Le chevalier qui 
faisoit parler les cous et les culs. This ability was conferred upon a 
certain noble knight by two fairies in reward for his conduct. The 
third fairy promises that he will be well received everywhere. The 
prophesy is fulfilled and he becomes a wealthy man. In De VEscui- 


ruel, young Robin uses the inexperience of a girl in order to win 
his love. 

The wanton life of women is what makes most of the fabliaux 
so obscene. These women enjoy foul words and coarse jokes, and 
delight in cynical doubles entrendre and filthy oaths. It is apparent 
from many references in the poets Preine and Bedier that women 
were present at the narration of such obscene tales and farces; and 
Jean de Conde does not hesitate to put into the mouth of a noble 
girl obscene words and sentiments which are never uttered today. 

For these reasons women can very easily be won, and the most 
threadbare grounds will sufKce, if the poets' words are to be be- 
lieved. Thus, a priest gets into the bed of a virgin who struggles 
against his attack and seeks to call for help. He asks her to remain 
quiet for no one will now believe in her innocence; she is per- 
suaded and capitulates. And why not? Girls have the greatest en- 
joyment in sensual pleasures; and no matter how inexperienced 
they are, as soon as the first bite is taken of the apple, they are 
greedy to devour the rest. A girl will wish to be married only 
to a young, strong man. Should her wish not be gratified and 
should her parents compel her to be married to an old man, she 
will bewail her years. The young woman will then experience as 
much discomfort in her enforced continence as will one whose 
husband, whether owing to stupidity or inexperience, does not 
fulfill his connubial obligations. In these cases of course the lover 
must suffer. When a shield-bearer laments the fact that he has 
slain his love by the intensity of his embraces, another one entreats 
him for the same death; but this does not happen. And no wonder, 
for according to the poets one woman can suck the marrow out of 
the bones of a hundred men before she will be satisfied, and to 
prove this point they resort to a remarkable exegesis of two verses 
in the Bible (Prov. 30, 15-16). Even the nunneries, which should 


be the seats of pious discipline, are the scenes of the most lascivi- 
ous lusts. From the newest novice to the abbess, all feel the prick 
of the flesh. Three nuns have found an obscene picture, accord- 
ing to another version un vit grossier et plenier, and bring it to the 
abbess to assign it to one of them. The latter settles the dispute by 
declaring it to be a miniature from her psalter and keeps it for her- 

The standing figures in the fabliaux and farces are the priest, 
husband, wife, maid, procuress, knight, student and serf. 

The priest is represented as a seducer much more frequently in 
the fabliaux than in the middle high German tales. He was very 
much sought after as a lover and there were good grounds for 
this, as a daughter once explained to her mother. "The knight and 
the slave will spread abroad their exploits with me; but when I 
have lain with the priest he must shut his mouth and keep still." 
It was to his advantage as well as the girl's, to keep the matter 
secret. As a result of his inactive and voluptuous life, he became a 
bon ouvrier en lit. His wiles to achieve his aims are numerous; but 
once apprehended in a love scene he is revealed as a ludicrous, 
tremulous coward. 

The stories about husbands generally do not deal with the wise, 
superior husband who sees through the intrigues of his wife and 
understands how to revenge himself upon the seducer, or how to 
enjoy some escapades of his own; but rather with the common 
figure of the cuckolded and henpecked husband. Generally the 
husband is old, ugly, stupid, naive or anxious — all of them justifi- 
cation for his wife's extra-marital pleasures. 

Woman is seldom absent in these tales. Generally her beauty is 
drawn in all conceivable colors. The breast especially appears to 
be an important fact of feminine pulchritude: it must be round 
and full, but not too big. For the designation of more private parts 


rude words are used. The more beautiful a woman the more she 
wishes to shine; and it's a short way from her vanity to her fall. 
Consequently the unfaithful wife is the usual type in the fabliaux, 
false, daring, unhesitating, mendacious, always ready for love and 
always with enough presence of mind to avoid being caught in 
her escapades. 

The virgin is usually naive. She knows nothing of love but is 
quite willing to be taught. This playing with naivete and erotic 
innocence so attractive to the German and Russian writers, is also 
employed by the French, but in a much coarser way. 

What was the reason for the pessimistic evaluation of women? 
It certainly was not dictated exclusively by the ascetic notions of 
the middle ages about the inferiority of women and marriage. At 
the end of the middle ages such harking back to the Bible or church 
fathers was rare. What gives these satires their force is their tone 
of personal experience. Thorough knowledge of the female is at the 
base of these poets' warnings against marriage — for girls are much 
different after marriage than they were before. A favorable judg- 
ment about women would be very difficult if we had to depend 
only upon the meagre words of praise in these tales. Nevertheless, 
behind this entire catalogue of female vices there slumbers the 
conviction that the female mind is superior. The constantly re- 
occurring circumstance that the woman emerges as victorious, after 
having taken advantage of the unworthy characteristics of the 
man — his credulity, fear, clumsiness, inertia and jealousy — is an 
indirect recognition of her power, which one must have a knowl- 
edge of, if one is to escape it. 

The subject matter of these tales and farces has frequently been 
traced. Le Grand D'Aussy and Barbazan-Meon have followed, in 
their editions of the old French fabliaux and contes, the treatment 
of this subject matter throughout many centuries and in many 


Romance languages. Bedier has investigated their sources in his 
Les fabliaux; and his general conclusion is that the raw material 
does spring from the Orient, but that the French poet has so devel- 
oped these themes as to make his stories a pure product of the 
esprit gaulois. 

After the lapse of time, these dramatized farces were acted out. 
They generally consisted of one hundred to three hundred verses. 
Few of them were ever written down and still fewer printed. All 
that have come down to us, about 150 pieces, date from the period 
1 440- 1 450. After 1450 there appeared the soties, closely related to 
these farces but having real fools or clowns in the chief role. The 
Guild of lawyers, the Basoches, was most instrumental in develop- 
ing the farces. Miraulmont, their historian, tells us that at set times 
during the year they would present pieces in which they would 
ridicule their own individual members and in editions secrettes 
galantes des maisons particulieres. On Shrove Tuesday they would 
hold a session and satirize the law just as the choir boys did to the 
church service at Christmas time. They would deal with an imagi- 
nary legal process usually of a very coarse nature. We don't know 
much about the repertoire of these societies but here are some 
examples dealing with litigation: Whether a baby bom six months 
after the wedding can be considered legitimate; a defloration case; 
the jarce du pect (pet) where man and wife accuse each other of 
breaking wind in formal legal manner; or Les femmes qui de- 
mandent les arresages in which the woman brings suit for non- 
fulfillment of marital duties but later becomes reconciled to her 
husband. Again there is no lack of farces dealing with unfaithful 
wives. Thus we find the story of a one-eyed man whose wife 
covers that one eye while her lover escapes; and then that of the 
fool whose wife is confined much too early. The cunning tricks 
of amorous women play a great role in these farces, and there is no 


dearth of obscenity, but on the whole there is more of the latter 
and less of wit in the Germanic productions of that time than 
in these French farces or in the Italian bejfe or burle tales. The 
gallantries of the clerics were also dramatized. In general it may 
be said that only a small fraction of the farces can be regarded as 
dramatized fabliaux which were but little used. However, the prim- 
itive joy in piquant and panurgic situations is not to be mistaken in 



ONE must not judge too harshly the licentiousness of the peo- 
ple, for joy in erotic matters has been found among the high 
and the low in the gray mists of antiquity as well as in the present. 
The higher classes of that time were no exception. The plays which 
were publicly produced in France during the reign of Henry ix 
were exceedingly offensive. Thus, The fimny tale of the physician 
who cures all diseases and makes the nose of the child of a pregnant 
ivonian; or the boisterous and merry tale which describes the dis- 
pute over a girl between a young monk and an old gendarme, held 
before the God Cupid. At the time of Louis xi and Charles the 
Bold there were representations comparable to those of antiquity — 
with absolutely naked girls participating in scenes like the Judg- 
ment of Paris, the History of Noah, etc. Schnaase reports some of 
the doings at a party that Philip the Good gave at Lille in 1454 on 
the occasion of a summons to a crusade issued by Pope Pius 11, with 
all the accompanying revelry and license. At one end of the board 
was a naked girl covered only by her long hair and a thin veil, 
whose breasts poured forth Hypocras a favorite drink; and on the 
table there was a naked boy who scattered rose water in an even 
more naive fashion. 

The paintings and the tapestries of the rich showed the same 
scenes. William Pepin, a preacher of the fifteentli century has this 
to say: 'The paintings and tapestries frequently display such dis- 


gustingly lewd matters that passions are aroused in even the most 
tranquil dispositions. These are usually found in the castles of the 
nobility. Would to Heaven that none were even seen in the resi- 
dences of prelates and the clergy. But I cannot deny that I have 
even seen certain lewd paintings in the interior of a famous church 
which was decked out this way in honor of Easter. I had them 
removed and carried them elsewhere." The palace at Fontainbleau, 
which Italian artists bmlt and decorated for Francis I, had a mass 
of lewd paintings according to the fashion of that time. Sauval says 
that one could see represented in them gods and goddesses, as well 
as men and women indulging in unnatural and horrible excesses. 
In 1643 the regent queen caused many of these paintings to be 
destroyed; and the loss amounted to more than half a million francs. 
The handwritten prayer books were decorated with miniatures; 
and collectors saved those which portrayed offensive matters. 

Brantome's writings constitute an inexhaustible source for evalu- 
ating the moral conditions of the higher society of that time. He 
writes: "The gallery of Count du Chateau- Vilain, known as Seign- 
eur Adjacet, was visited by a horde of women in the company of 
their admirers. Their eyes were entranced by the splendid and 
rare paintings that hung in this gallery. They saw a very pretty 
painting which portrayed beautiful women at the bath embracing 
one another and doing one another various other kinds of love 
service; upon observing which, even the coldest nun or hermitess 
could become ardent. One of the women whom I knew suddenly 
turned to her lover and kissed him excitedly, intoxicated with 
the amorous madness depicted on the wall: 'I can't stand it any 
longer. Quick, into the carriage and home. I am burning! Come 
on! We will extinguish the fire.' " How widespread this love for 
exciting pictures was, can be gathered from a sarcastic remark made 
by the Marquis d'Argens apropos of Mary Medici's destruction 


of a number of these paintings: "She had better set all of Fontain- 
bleau aflame if she wishes to have some measure of success in her 

Brantome also relates the following: "I knew a prince who pur- 
chased from a goldsmith a beaker of gilded silver which was a 
masterpiece. All around, and even inside, it had delicate but clear 
representations of some figures of Aretino and many scenes of co- 
habiting animals. During the feasts that this prince gave, the beaker 
would be passed around to the women who had to drink from it 
and who found great amusement in it." And again: "At the time 
of Henry iii a nobleman of my acquaintance presented his love 
with a picture book, representing 32 ladies of the court disporting 
themselves in venery with their admirers. Among them were cer- 
tain ladies who had two or three or more lovers each, and these 32 
exemplified 27 postures of Aretino. The pictures were perfect like- 
nesses — some fully naked, some in the same clothes and coiffure 
that they always wore; and the same was true of the men rep- 
resented. In short this book was splendidly made. It cost about nine 
hundred thalens, and the drawings were colored." Brantome fur- 
ther relates that when one of the court ladies thus represented saw 
these pictures of herself she didn't feel at all insulted, but rather 
experienced a high degree of excitement. Obscene amusements 
Were the order of the day with the gallant ladies of the court, as 
contemporary writings demonstrate. 

Something more should be said concerning knighthood. This 
institution possessed indubitable merits but it also was disfigured 
by many defects which are not at all in accordance with the 
notions commonly held about it. For generally it is supposed that 
knighthood and the Minnesingers were based on, and culminated 
in, the highest degree of reverence for women. Yet it was anything 
but that. To be sure, the poet-lover of a given lady regarded himself 


as a vassal of his love, and assumed the obligations of this vassal- 
dom — and its privileges. The lady love was the feudal lord and he 
served her in the expectation that his services would finally be 
recompensed with the desired, ultimate boon. In this concept of 
mutuality there lay a deeply immoral moment which was soon to 
become the point of attack for the annihilating criticism of knight- 
hood. Since this mutuality was nearly always carried into the realm 
of the sexual, the homage to woman soon was lost. Why? Because 
there had to result a gradual demolition of all marital relationships, 
and a revaluation of all moral conceptions concerning marital fideli- 
ty and purity of family life. 

This strong emphasis on sexual matters was aided by the thor- 
ough occupation with love in all its phases which characterizes the 
didactic poetry of that time. In the Minnesongs for example the 
preponderant theme is the corporeal attraction of the lady who is 
being solicited, and the joys of physical love. No attention is paid 
to the spiritual qualities of the woman, who indeed has value only 
as an object for serving man's insatiable passions. Consequently, 
pleasure in woman is confined to the externals; if she possesses 
physical merits these are glorified by her knight in songs of 
appropriate praise. But what if these corporeal attractions decay? 
Then they become disesteemed, as are from the start all those 
women who have not been dowered with beauty, and are cast 
upon the junk heap. The Minnesongs can be pronounced to be 
immoral in the wide usage of the term, if only for the reason that 
it is always a married woman who is the mistress of the poet's 
heart. And since there was no lack of jealous husbands at this time, 
the singing troubadour was frequently compelled to use fictitious 
names and allegorical signs in order to conceal the identity of his 
lady. It is this circumstance that to a considerable degree spoils 
the naturalness and truth of the experiences in these poems. But 

this reserve does not extend to the physical charms of the beloved 
which were always placed in the foreground and celebrated with 
utter candor. Her most intimate beauties and private favors were 
poetized and revealed to an interested world, and what woman 
could remain deaf to music so flattering to her ear! The forms 
which the Minnesingers assumed were frequently very grotesque. 
The knights wore the shirt of their beloved, saved their hair, 
often their pubic hair, and were present to lend a helping hand 
when their lady-loves disrobed and retired. Ulrich von Lichtenstein 
(1276) drank with great relish the water of his beloved's bath, 
had his lip operated for her sake, etc. Once the lady's favor was 
won, the happy lover did not have to wait very long for the satis- 
faction of his impatient desire. These relationships took place with- 
out delay and quite openly, and were sanctioned, indeed demanded, 
by society. To such a pass did matters reach, that the husband 
was often compelled to be content with a secondary, inferior posi- 
tion in his wife's favor. Certainly one cannot become very enthusi- 
astic about the moral conditions of that time. 

It is not extraordinary, therefore, when the poet inflamed by the 
charms of his beloved and reveling in the memories of sweet hours 
of intimacy, gave such free rein to his fancy that his words were 
somewhat too outspoken for seminary girls. It is even pardonable, 
for these songs are the expression of a genuinely experienced emo- 
tion. Not quite the same justification exists for the composition of 
erotic verses which are calculated to dazzle or to amuse by their 
brilliance, since in this case there is no inner feeling struggling for 
expression that might, however slightly, excuse the license of 

The low moral standard of the Minne-poetry is also attribu- 
table to the fact that it was not always knights who were the com- 
posers of these songs, since a certain measure of talent is necessary 


for their composition, which cannot be learnt. For the most part, 
itinerant singers, troubadours dependent on the kindness of the 
knight, were the creators of this poetry. Troubadours (from trou- 
ver) denotes discoverer, poet. They flourished in the period be- 
tween the middle of the twelfth and fourteenth century. Their pro- 
ductions include violent satires against the clergy, didactic poems, 
but above all, love songs and abstruse speculations anent the nature 
of love. They sought to establish their fame in the Tensons, in which 
questions posed at various courts of love were treated in pedantic 
fashion. These tensons consisted of dialogues in alternating couplets 
in which these various speculative opinions were expressed. In their 
own land the troubadours led an idle and uncertain life but they 
found a cordial welcome at the palaces of the nobles where they 
consorted with low villains. This afforded them a fine opportunity 
to gather the anecdotes and the chronique scandaleuse of the day 
which they afterwards utilized for the benefit of their hearers, with 
due corrections. The unquestionable beauty of many of their songs 
is nevertheless disfigured by numerous failings. Thus the tales are 
sometimes extravagant and more often offensive, not merely in 
expression but also in content. Many obscene matters are even put 
into the mouths of women. 

Love is represented as an art by this poetry, and reduced to 
rules. Hence the expression. Saber d'amor: to be wise in matters of 
love. It is very likely that manuals were composed for this art, for 
which Ovid served as preceptor. 

It has already been mentioned that there existed a great predi- 
lection for investigating the nature and essence of love; and this 
brings us to the courts of love with their questions of the Minne- 
singers, frequently very free ones, too! The Roman de la Rose is an 
excellent example of this pedantic inclination to a scholastic con- 
sideration of love. Even the privileges and obligations of the lovers 


were codified — in such works as the Love Court of Raymond Vidal; 
and the Liber de Arte honeste amandi et de Reprobatione inhonesti 
Amoris of Andreas Capellanus. There were debates on such ques- 
tions as these: Which lover shows more affection — he who is so 
jealous as to be disturbed on the slightest provocation, or he who is 
so prepossessed in favor of his love as not to be jealous even when 
substantial proofs are at hand? Which lover owes more to his love — 
he who has won her heart after a long siege or he who has not to so- 
licit so long? Which lover demonstrates his love more — he who at 
the behest of his love absents himself from a tournament that he de- 
sires to witness, or he who, again at the request of his love, accom- 
panies her to a tournament he would rather have missed. 

The existence of these courts of love is certified by numerous 
poems of the troubadours. What we are not certain however is 
whether they were regarded as pastimes, or whether the decisions 
of these courts really had any effect upon the courtly society. The 
first of these suppositions seems the more likely. Probably these 
questions about love were brought up at social gatherings for the 
delectation of the guests. Aretino would also seem to be of this mind. 
Schultz is doubtless right when he says: "It is highly probable that 
both ladies and gallants who had been following the suit of a cer- 
tain young man with interest, would discuss the matter to deter- 
mine whether the lover had already attained the final favor or 
whether he was to suffer much longer." But this sort of amusement 
and the court of love which gives decisions according to the writ- 
ings of Andreas are quite different things. 

The distortions of the knightly service of women, and the moral 
excesses of the time afforded ample material for didactic poetry and 
satire. There were those preachers who babbled about the good old 
times and who wished to lead their misguided and neglected con- 
temporaries back to morality and honor. These attempts were made 


in a very formal manner by Maitre Ermenen, for instance, who 
composed Breviari d'Amor ( 1 288), a iiandbook of love which treats 
of its subject with all the available knowledge of that time, starting 
from divine love and ending in earthly love. Raymond Vidal com- 
posed a volume in which he imparted wise doctrines to lovers. 
Peire Giullem composed a novel in which love, and her attendants, 
grace, shame, and frivolity, appeared as allegorical characters. 

All these attempts and numerous others pale by comparison with 
the Roman de la Rose of Guillaume of Louis (ca. 1260) w^hich 
Jehan de Meung completed about 1300. In certain respects he 
stands on the threshold between two periods. The earlier knightly 
gallantry to women had been succeeded by a satirical and superior 
sort, and the art of love was taught out of the treasure trove of rich 
experience. The pruriency and voluptuousness of the representa- 
tions were in accordance with the taste of the time. The satirical 
treatment of the errors of society, combined with an amazing eru- 
dition, lent a prestige to this work which it maintained throughout 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, even though there rose up 
among the attacked many who defended the old order. 

Lyric poetry of the troubadours had but a shadowy existence in 
the fifteenth century. Its rare and precious forms, its affectation, 
its concealed allusions did not appeal to the new taste, which sought 
genuine, homely lyricism. Among those who satisfied the new de- 
mands were Froissart, Besselin and especially Villon, who was bom 
near Paris, in 143 1. He came to Paris to attend the university but 
the loose student life attracted him much more than did science, 
and he was drawn deeper and deeper into the whirlpool of pleasure. 
His chief occupation was aimer. When one of his sweethearts dis- 
missed him he revenged himself by composing a satirical poem, 
for which he was publicly flogged. Thereupon he left Paris but not 
before he had composed (in 1456) his will — the Small Testament. 


His miserable circumstances compelled him to perpetrate two felo- 
nies for which he was twice sentenced to the gallows and twice 
pardoned. The date of his death is unknown but it falls between 
1480 and 1490. His chief work is the Grand Testament which he 
composed in the shadow of imminent death by hanging. It was a 
collection of ballads and poems in which he bequeathed to his rela- 
tives and cronies that which did not belong to him and which the 
heirs would have to steal to make their own. To his enemies he 
bequeathed a jest or a term of abuse. His roguish songs were collect- 
ed by a friend under the title Repues franches. All his works make a 
peculiar impression upon us with their rapid alternation of the 
coarsely erotic, and the noblest and purest of sentiment. With 
great candor he reveals to us his evil characteristics, and even his 
crimes. All his works are characterized by melancholy, humor, and 
a naive devotion to his impressions of reality; all his works breathe 
a deep truthfulness. His expression is frequently foul and obscene, 
and the wordplays which he skillfully scatters throughout his ver- 
ses have nearly always an obscene allusion. Despite all his short- 
comings, Villon remains the best folk poet before Marot, and 
stands in conscious opposition to the lascivious, sentimental, idyllic 
poetry which was the accepted thing in France since the Roman de 
la Rose. 

In the realm of the humorous story the two outstanding produc- 
tions are the Mensa Philosophica and the Cent Novelles Nouvelles. 
The first was printed in 1475 and is attributed to Michael Scot. The 
author's purpose is, in his own words, to teach his readers what and 
how to speak at the table. The fourth part contains a collection of 
"honorable, merry" stories that are adapted for table amusement, 
and include a great number of indecent stories. Bebel has borrowed 
a number of his Facetiae from it, Boccaccio's Decameron (vii, 5 and 
IX, 2) is beholden to it, and Gargantua's table amusement looks 


back to it as prototype. Michael Scot, who died in 1291, can un- 
hesitatingly be regarded as the author of the first three treatises. 
The fourth treatise, however, which includes the erotical tales is 
very likely the production of a Dominican monk. The Mensa served 
as model for the later narrators of humorous tales. 

The Cent Novelles Nouvelles, so called to distinguish them from 
the Cent Nouvelles antiche, were produced about 1460 but did not 
get into print before i486; they may be regarded as the first French 
book of tales which was consciously produced for this purpose. 
Neither the first printing of Verard nor any of the subsequent ones 
give the name of the author; all sorts of guesses have been made, 
even the name of Louis xi having been suggested. At any rate it 
was assumed as certain that they sprang from the King's table. The 
Marquis d'Argens mentions that the favorite table talk in that mon- 
arch's refectory consisted of obscene love adventures, and these 
stories doubtless gave the impetus to this bock. It remained for 
Wright in his edition of the work (1858) and the Grisebach, to es- 
tablish that Anthoine de la Sale was the author. The latter was bom 
at Provence in 1 388, jomneyed through Italy, Brabant and Flanders 
and in 141 5 took part in a military expedition to Portugal. After 
his return he became a judge in Aries, and tutor to the Dauphin 
and to the sons of Count Saint-Pol. Little is known of his last years, 
except that he was past seventy when he died. 

The form of the stories resembles Boccaccio's. A group of young 
noblemen, just returned from the hunt are gathered round the 
fireplace, and as they feast they regale each other with coarse, 
humorous stories. The stories are told broadly, are rooted in a rude, 
rough eroticism, and are scarcely fit for female ears. Fifteen of them 
are borrowed from Poggio, and Boccaccio too contributes some 
material; furthermore, the author took much from the fabliaux of 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. But La Sale has revised all 


his sources so that his work can really serve as an accurate mirror 
of the morals of his days. Lusty cavaliers, faithless and frivolous 
wives, jealous husbands, cunning monks and lascivious nuns pass 
before our eyes in colorful alternation. All their thoughts are con- 
cerned with the satisfaction of sexual desire. Yet even the most 
delicate matters are represented with smooth grace, which seems 
to be instinctive in the French people. 

La Sale is also the author of another very well known work which 
appeared anonymously, Les quinze joyes de manage. The edition 
of this work issued with many lacunae, by Jehan Treperel in Paris 
between 1495 and 1502, contains a foreword which gives the name 
of the author in a charade. This riddle was not deciphered until 
1830 when Dr. Andre Pother, municipal librarian of Rouen, wrote 
the solution to a certain bookseller Techener. This work is not 
merely a collection of obscenities but a striking and mordant satire 
on marriage, and though done in an admirable style, is quite pessi- 
mistic and misogynous. 




e^c^?^e^@^£W«&^s^(W^E|U e^ 



SENTIMENTAL lovc reached its peak in the flood of Amadis stories. 
I During his imprisonment in Madrid (1525) Francis i had read 
some of the Spanish Amadis stories by Garcia Ordonez de Mont- 
alvo. These stories of adventures and love appealed to him so much 
that he requisitioned d'Herberay des Essarts to translate them into 
French. The task was completed in 1 540 and despite its long winded 
title aroused the intensest interest and gave rise to numerous imita- 
tions which were failures. In all of them the erotic element was 

It is in the heroic romances of gallantry, in fictions like Amadis 
and in the pastorals, that songs of praise are sung to sexual love, 
which constituted the chief desideratum of life. It is almost a 
tradition that all heroes of the Amadis romances must have been 
the fruit of premarital unions; and the knights who extol the notions 
of free sexual relations always find ladies of like mind. In the 
heroic romances of gallantry there is not quite such a degree of 
freedom; indeed it was the part of courtiy perfection to apply a 
curb to erotic passion and to paraphrase matters almost sanctimoni- 
ously instead of employing the blunt word. But this does not imply 
that a nobler conception of love had come to be entertained. From 
contemporary descriptions of the moral life of the period, we know 
that at the court of Louis xiv chastity was by no means regarded 
as an ideal worth striving for, and that sexual pleasures were more 


highly valued than anything else; only, it was held that to display 
one's erotic desires to the whole world was not compatible with the 
dignity and honor required of a courtier. Madame Scudery is a 
prototype of the poets who composed these romances. Although 
she lost much of her popularity after Boileau's biting satire, the 
public continued to favor these romances; and in Germany they 
were even more popular than in France. 

However, this fare of false sentimentality which our modem 
appetites can no longer enjoy, did not hold the sole place in the 
esteem of that period. Other genres, more substantial, were also 
favored; and the grotesque, the piquant, the ribald found as many 
lovers as the Amadis romances, or even more. The chief rep- 
resentatives of each variety will now be mentioned. 

The first place is without a doubt occupied by Master Frangois 
Rabelais (1483-1553) with his Gargantua and Pantagruel, which 
is more than a grotesque-humorous fiction. There is unrolled be- 
fore our eyes a satirical picture of the times, which has never found 
its equal. There is no need for us to give a more detailed analysis 
of the work since this will be found in any history of literature. 
This world famous satire owes its origin to the suggestion of his 
publishers, who requested Rabelais to write a popular work to 
indemnify them for the poor sale of that author's medical works. 
So Rabelais composed his Pantagruel roy des Dipsodes, restitue a son 
naturel avec ses faicetz et ses promesses esponentables; composez par 
feu M. Alcofribas abstracteur de quintessence to which he soon 
added the revised satire La vie ires horrifique de Gargantua, pere 
Pantagruel fadis compose e par M. Alcofribas, abstracteur de quin- 
tessence. In the first book Rabelais lets the giant Pantagruel journey 
through all provinces of folly. Everywhere he punishes fools and 
protects the righteous. His companion is the infinitely amusing 
Panurge, who addresses him in all possible languages following the 


evil custom of the scholars of his time; and they exchange experi- 
ences. Rabelais lashes the crimes of the church and the monks 
and their lascivious life with unsurpassed, vigorous humor. In line 
with the comic content, the narrative is adorned with speeches 
and words in foreign languages, and with linguistic frills of all 
sorts which despite their nonsense, give a most just characterization 
of the persons represented. 

Naturally this book was a thorn in the side of those whom it 
attacked, and it would have fared ill with the author had not the 
royal hand protected him. Francis i in particular took great delight 
in the unrestrained merriment of the delightful work. However, 
Rabelais never aimed at lewdness in these books. Even as prudish 
a historian of literature as E. Engel admits that while certain chap- 
ters in Gargantua are so immeasurably indecent that it is impossible 
to give even a list of its headings, it must nevertheless be admitted 
that Rabelais is never lewd, no matter how far he strays beyond 
the bounds of what is permissible to the writer or artist, or how 
much he indulges in offensive and monstrous nastiness. He never 
aims to excite the reader sensually, though he always and quite 
without scruple, uses the shocking word to designate the shocking 
deed. In other words, although he revels in the vocabulary of 
coarseness so that many chapters are complete lexica of porno- 
graphy, which have no equal even in the wide realms of French 
literature, he never smirks, and only uses such words to portray 
faithfully coarse men and raw situations. 

In the rhymed foreword to Gargantua, Rabelais expresses himself 
unequivocally about the purpose of his work: 

Mieulx est de ris que de larmes escrire 
pource que rire est le propre de Vhomme. 

The hostility of the theologues is quite understandable for even 
Protestant literature cannot show more witty and malicious mock- 


ery than Rabelais offers in the chapters 49 to 54 of the third book, 
and chapters 3 to 8 of the fourth book of Pantagruel. His work 
is a splendid antidote to the literature of libidinousness and pruri- 
ency — like a mudbath. His piercing scorn is also directed against 
the female sex, particularly against the immorality of his feminine 
contemporaries. What a grotesque impression is created by his ac- 
count of the unusual condition of the labor ator natur<£ (clitoris) 
which in some women is so long, large, thick, fat and vigorous, 
that they can twine it around their bodies five or six times as a 
girdle, or actually use it as a lance in certain circumstances! 

How insatiable the women of his time were may be gathered 
from the following anecdote from Rabelais: One fine morning 
Panurge met a fellow who was carrying two baby girls of about 
two or three years of age in a double knapsack, slung across his 
shoulders — one in front and the other on his back. Panurge who 
had but little respect for the female species asked the man immedi- 
ately whether the children were virgins. To which the man replied 
that he had been carrying them about for two years; that the one 
in front whom he carried on his chest — he supposed that she was 
still a virgin; but as for the one whom he carried on his back, he 
could not undertake to speak with certainty. 

Quite in the spirit of Rabelais, but not at all a part of literature, 
are the Erreurs popolaires et propos vulgaires touchant la ?nedicine 
et la regime of Laurent Joubert (1578). The very headings betray 
the roguish wantonness of the author: why one should not meet 
women before going to bed; the abuse of women who bathe in order 
to become gravid; how it is possible that a woman should bear nine 
children at once; whether it is good for a woman to sit on a hot 
kettle or place the night cap of her husband on her belly to assure 
an easy parturition; are there sure signs of a girl's virginity; etc. 


Obviously the roguish author of this coarse humor has caught the 
breath of Rabelais' spirit. 

Guillaume Bouchet, who Hved between 15 13 and 1593 and was 
a bookseller at Poitiers, has also long been famed as an imitator of 
Rabelais. He wrote the Series, fifty gallant "jokes" which have the 
effect of well-told anecdotes in their pregnant setting. One reads 
here of the lady who has to sit on the pot de chambre and gets 
pinched in her private parts by a crayfish; of the dreamer who 
dreams of gold but who receives turds; of the cuckolded husband 
who must get into the privy at once but who cannot open the 
door because his wife and her lover are having a very important 
conference there. Whereas the stories of the Heptameron and the 
Nouvelles Recreations still contain much that is superfluous, the 
tendency toward the pure form of the anecdote appears ever more 
clearly in the last decades of the 1 6th century, to assume final form 
in the work of Bouchet and Beroalde de Verville. In these anec- 
dotes of the Series, and of the Moyen de parvenir soon to be dis- 
cussed, with their condensation and pointedness, the material of the 
old French fabliaux assumed the form of the modern French conte. 
A few illustrations will prove this. 

\ A pregnant woman feels that her hour is due. The midwife 
supports her and desires to put her upon the bed. Whereupon 
she cries: "No, not on the bed; that's where I met my misfor- 

^ A group was conversing about the slightness of hand found 
among gypsies, and one man related how they took a stone, en- 
closed it in their fist in the sight of all, and were so skilled in 
making it disappear that no one could tell whether it was still 
there or not. His wife who had not been listening very atten- 
tively remarked, quite naively: "Tush, that can't be so difficult. 
I always know whether it is inside or not." 


f A newly married couple had just gone to bed and the hus- 
band was praising his wife for her chastity during their be- 
trothal — that is, for not having granted him that which he had 
been so fervently desiring. Thereupon she said to him, "Yes, 
dear, I took great care not to let myself go in spite of the fact 
that I desired you, because I had already been deceived too 
many times in such matters." 

Des Periers the valet, secretary and page of Margaret of Valois, 
also wrote witty anecdotes. Gay gives a full report about his life 
and works. Bonaventure des Periers was at once philosopher and 
author. He was bom at the end of the fifteenth century and stood 
in relationship to Clement Marot and Rabelais. By Catholics he was 
suspected of Protestantism, and by the latter of licentiousness. In 
1537 he published Cymbalum mundi, a collection of philosophical 
dialogues. Immediately, the whole edition, with the exception of 
two copies, was placed under embargo and destroyed. Of these 
two, one is in the Bibhotheque Nationale, the other in the municipal 
library of Versailles. The protection of Margaret of Valois saved 
him from persecution and the following year another edition was 
issued by a different publisher, Bonn of Lyons. For a short while he 
belonged to the intimate circle gathered around Margaret which 
was devoted to the cultivation of bel-esprit. In 1543 he committed 
suicide in a fit of insanity. After his death his works were issued by 
his friends, and among them were Les Nouvelles. The following are 
some of the erotic stories of des Periers that may be considered 
characteristic of his time: 

^ Concerning the three unmarried sisters who give witty an- 
swers to their husbands on the night of their marriages. 

f Concerning the procurator who has a girl from the country 
come to minister to his needs, and his secretary who enjoyed 
her too. 



f Concerning the Scotchman and his wife who displayed quite 
an unaccountable skill during the first skirmish. 

f Concerning the poor bumpkin who found his lost ass thanks 
to an enema that his physician had given him. 

f Concerning a superstitious physician who would play with 
his wife only when it rained; and of the great good fortune that 
befell her upon his death. 

^ Concerning a priest who let himself be castrated at the insti- 
gation of his housekeeper. 

^ Concerning the trick that a young woman of Orleans em- 
ployed in order to ensnare a young student to whom she had 
taken a fancy. 

^ Concerning the lawsuit that a mother-in-law brought against 
her son-in-law because he had not deflowered her daughter on 
the first night. 

f Concerning two youths of Sienna who were in love with two 
Spanish women, of whom one in order to help the other attain 
the pleasures of love, went through great dangers, which subse- 
quently brought him much joy and satisfaction. 

In much the same way Nicolas of Troyes, the saddle master, wrote 
down the humorous stories that came to his ears. He lived about 
1 530 at the time of Francis i and composed his stories just before the 
Heptameron. His stories depend on Boccaccio, La Sale, Cent nov- 
elles nouvelles, Gesta Romanorum, old sermons and books of leg- 
ends, the dialogues of the holy Gregory, Jacob de Vitry and others. 
In order to characterize the stories a bit, we will summarize the con- 
tents of some of them: 

^ A young woman engaged to be married has her duties 
knocked into her by the barn thresher in order that she may 
be a ready worker by the time she is married. 



^ A merchant purchases from a priest the sacrifice of all the 
women whom the latter has had. But the man's own wife who 
has been one of the company, subsequently deceives him again. 

f A priest is enamoured of a woman painter and what happens 
to him after he represents, entirely naked, the crucified one up- 
on a cross. 

^ A youthful couple were married. Once the husband leaves 
for a short trip to Paris and when he returns his wife asks what 
he has done with the Httle ploughman that he used to have be- 

^ A certain baker is in love with a maid and embraces her 
whenever he comes for the dough. Her mistress lies in wait for 
him one day, gives him his dough and gets in return what was 
coming to the maid. 

f A young wife is persuaded that she has caused her husband 
to be pregnant. Whereupon his wife consents to have him 
transfer his pregnancy to the maid whom he promptly impreg- 

^ A certain girl is unwilling to marry any man who has the 
generative organs of the male. 

^ A youth bound for Lyons lies with an abbess while en route. 
A hermit presents him with a ring that adds half a foot to the 
stature of his member. A certain bishop finds the said ring and 
encounters many strange adventures. 

These tales are valuable to us for the historical materials they 
contain. Aside from this, however, the circumstantial narratives 
of the upright artisan are neither of literary nor cultural value. 

Infinitely more alive is the master of the droll tale, Francois 
Beroalde de Verville (i 558-1 612), whom we now consider. He 
was born and raised as a Protestant but after his father's death he 
went over to the Catholic church, and at thirty-five became canon 

of Saint-Gatien de Tours, in recognition of his extraordinary eru- 
dition and superb gifts. He was the author of a series of novels 
including La Pucelle d'Orleans but none of these would have res- 
cued his name from oblivion had he not hit upon the happy notion 
of collecting piquant anecdotes. The volume titled Moyen de Par- 
venir appeared about 1610 with no author's or publisher's name and 
no place of publication. Subsequent editions bore other quaint titles, 
as Le Coupgu de la Melancholie and Venus en belle hu7neur, etc. 

We have here a collection of extremely free tales related round 
the festive board. The modern reader needs much patience to read 
Beroalde who makes many demands upon that particular virtue 
because he is very prolix and repetitious. The boon companions 
spin their yarns to great lengths indeed. Most of the anecdotes 
have to do with the genital and anal regions; and it would appear 
as though this strong, and not at all prudish nation, took particular 
joy in swimming in cesspools. Beroalde finds special pleasure in put- 
ting the juiciest jests and anecdotes into the mouths of famous writ- 
ers like Sappho, Rabelais, Calvin and many other scholars whom he 
vulgarizes before us. His influence was very considerable and for a 
long time his work was attributed to Rabelais. Even today we find 
some of his witty tales included in contemporary works. 

A few examples will illustrate how coarse these anecdotes are. 
Several characters are conversing: 

f The Other: I will tell you all about it. Gaffer Genebrard 
had married a young, pretty, and dainty wife, and in due course 
they went to bed. He kissed her and fondled her to his heart's 
content (he was soon content) and then tapped her gently, 
saying: "Roach, sweetheart, roach." Next Friday the maid was 
charged to go to the fishmarket, and asked her mistress what 
she should buy. "Whatever you please," said the lady. "Shall 
n)ring some roach?" (The name of a common fish.) "The devil 
take you! I never hear anything but roach in this house!" 



f Gaupil: Roach is a good name, considering the care that na- 
ture hath to ward off eficj'oachmejits, otherwise women would 
be perpetually hoarse. But it is a wondrous thing how this mys- 
tery of nature can come together again after it has been parted. 

f Sappho: It came about when Jupiter severed the androgyne. 
He bade Mercury sew up the bellies of the two halves; and thus 
the belly is tender to the touch to this day. The lace he used to 
sew up the man was too long, so the end hung down in front; 
and when he came to the woman he took too short a lace, and 
there was not enough to finish her; hence for want of a stitch a 
gash remained open. Do you understand that? Then lay it up in 
the cedar chest by the hearth. Know you, learned sirs, what are 
the seven wonders of the world? You say not a word. It is evi- 
dent that I can teach you some rare doctrines, so make ready to 
listen. Don't you know that though the hen and the cow live in 
the same field neither eats buttered eggs! I will tell you greater 
secrets which contain the marrow of all the sciences. The seven 
miracles are as follows: i. A black hen, which lays a white egg. 
2. Claret, which goes in red and comes out white. 3. The spigot 
that has no ears, and yet hears well enough when there is talk of 
grappling. 4. The vessel which has its mouth at the bottom, and 
yet lets nothing out. 5. The bow which bends of itself without 
a winch. 6. The rose which sucks the marrow of men's bones, 
and yet does not break them. 7. The anus which opens and shuts 
like a purse, without any strings. Ah, ha! What do you say to 

Here is another example from Beroalde, as witty and as coarse 
as the preceding excerpt and no less characteristic of the age: 

^ It fell out once on a time that as Brother Laillee was journey- 
ing to Angers, he spent a night in the house of a good woman 
who had long known him; if I am not mistaken she was called 
La Coibaude. When he was in bed they put a chamber-pot on 
the stool beside him, and on the same stool was a round and hol- 
low rat-trap; not one of the traps with a door, but with a spring 


that gripped the rat by the middle of the body. This trap was at 
least half a foot in diameter, it was ready set, and the spring was 
stiff and strong. In the night Brother Jean woke up to mictu- 
rate, and took hold of the trap by the rim, thinking it had been 
the pot. He then presented John Chouart to the instrument, 
and as it stretched down as far as the catch, the spring went off, 
and grabbed hold of the Greyfriar. He bawled out loudly e- 
nough to awake the Seven Sleepers, and they brought a candle, 
and set him free. 

f The maid laughed at him with all her heart, for she was now 
avenged of an ill turn he had done her when he was sleeping 
there before. It was in summertime, and the house being full, he 
who was a familiar friend slept in the lower room, where the 
good wife and her maid lay in another bed. The rascal got up to 
take the air, and the night being dark, he called out to the maid: 
"Marchioness, I have lost my way; prithee, come and set me 
right." The poor wench got up and went to him, and in the 
meantime the friar had tucked up his shirt and was holding his 
arms high above his head. "Prithee, take me by the hand," said 
he. "Alack!" quoth she, "your fingers are mighty thick; no, it's 
your arm. Why, what's this? Go away, I will have nothing to 
do with you." With that she gave him a push and left him in 
the dark. 

In marked contrast to Beroalde's naturalness and primitiveness 
is the courtliness that emanates from every line of the Heptameron, 
despite its attention to sexual matters. Marguerite de Valois, born 
on April ii, 1492 and dying on 21st of December 1549, stood at 
the center of the literary circle gathered at the court of her brother, 
Francis i. Rabelais thought a great deal of her and dedicated the third 
book of his Pantagruel to her. Clement Marot who poetized about 
her was regarded as her lover. The fruit of this social intercourse 
was the Heptameron des nouvelles which was written in conscious 
debt to Boccaccio. The seventy-two stories are spread over eight 
days, and the introduction as well as the general scheme of the book 


reminds one of the great Italian masterpiece. A company of ladies 
and gentlemen who are journeying to the Pyrenees to take the 
baths, take refuge in a monastery in order to escape a storm and 
flood. To beguile the tedium of the enforced delay, everyone of 
the group tells a love story. Besides certain very tolerant opinions 
springing from the spirit of a sophisticated humanitarianism, there 
are some extremely forceful attacks on the evils of the time, espe- 
cially on the abuses of the church, and the immorality, pride and 
superstition of the monks. French literature owes its first fluent and 
merry book of entertainment, free from excessive erudition and 
bombastic euphuism, to Marguerite. 

In her introduction the authoress relates how the Dauphin, and 
Madame Marguerite (that is, herself) had resolved jointly and with 
the further assistance of other ladies, to write a collection of stories 
like Boccaccio's, whose work but recently translated by a secretary 
of the king, had met with great success. Lotheisen believes that 
the stories were not meant for publication but were intended only 
for a small circle of friends. In 1550 the first edition was issued by 
Pierre Boaistuau under the title: Histoire des amans fortunes but 
it did not bear Marguerite's name. However, since he had mutilated 
the text Marguerite's daughter, Johanna of Navarre, caused to be 
issued in 1559 a more conscientious but castrated text, under the 
title by which it has come to be known: The Heptaineron. Later 
editions contain the unmutilated text. 

The authoress set as her task the narration of real occurrences 
and historical incidents, in the form of the very short stories that 
her age loved. Generally they are of a prurient nature but told 
with a seemingly naive candor. However erotic they may be, they 
are told quite undisguisedly but they do not aim to excite the read- 
er through lascivious descriptions. Marguerite's pen was moved 
by joy in writing these venereal anecdotes which are well able to 


arouse even the modern reader's laughter. Marguerite was thor- 
oughly aware of the daring nature of her material but it was part 
of the age and she was certainly no prude among her contempo- 
raries. And sometimes, when an extremely erotic tale is told, Mar- 
guerite was shrewd enough, aping the hypocrisy of her time, to 
make it yield a pious moral. 

Beroalde de Verville, des Periers and Margaret of Valois are 
then a few of the most significant representatives of French writers 
of funny tales. Their work is by no means diminished in import- 
ance because they borrowed most of their material from popular 
sources. Karl Amrain (Anthropophytheia x, 248) gives a very illu- 
minating explanation of the wandering of such stories. He holds 
that the female domestics who are notorious for their love of tattle 
put into circulation all the intimate details, love talk, panurgics, 
obscenity, and chit-chat of their sensual and loose mistresses, the 
high born ladies whom they prepared for love. The tales then ran the 
gamut of the lower classes and the best were embellished and mag- 
nified. Finally the poets and collectors of facetiae gave them pi- 
quant form and thus they reached the upper classes. This explains 
the frequent recurrence of similar stories in collections far re- 
moved in space and time. There is no question of plagiarism at all. 
Even today there are extant among people jokes and anecdotes 
which first appeared hundreds of years ago. 

When we discussed the Heptmneron we mentioned the name 
of Clement Marot. Born in 1495, he early became a page at the 
court of Marguerite where his charm and wit brought him much 
success with women. As valet to the king, he stood in close relation- 
ship to Diana of Poitiers. He accompanied Francis i on the latter's 
expedition into Italy, was wounded near Pavia and captured, but 
was soon released, and in 1525 was back in France. All sorts of 
gallant adventures together with the suspicion that he inclined 


to Calvinism brought him to jail, but he was released at the com- 
mand of the king. He then went to Geneva where he became a 
member of the reformed church, but owing to his amorous exploits 
was banished from the city. He went back to Italy where he re- 
turned to Catholicism, dying at Turin in September 1 544 in com- 
parative poverty. 

Of his many writings only the Epigrams are readable today. 
No matter how brilliant his other poems are they are vitiated by 
the defects of the style of the time, the obsolete emotion and pon- 
derous pomp. For erotica however Marot found the clear classic 
form of the epigram whose master he was. He was able to enclose 
a whole Italian story in eight lines of verse; and so great was his 
skill that this morsel contained all the spice of the original. The 
age he lived in with its intense joy in love gave him the mate- 
rial for his maddest inspirations and he created pictures which 
recall the strength of a Goya. Marot's epigrams entertained and 
corrupted the dazzling court of Francis, and they still sparkle, like 
little mirrors, with all the license and insouciance of that time. 

The driving force of Marot's period, the force that colored and 
ruled over its thought and emotion was the erotic. It has been sug- 
gested that Charles viii of Burgundy, to whom all Europe is re- 
sponsible for the spreading of lues (according to Bloch) undertook 
his Italian expedition merely because he yearned for Italian women. 
He and his men were received with great enthusiasm. For over 
one hundred and twenty days and nights, the king and his soldiery 
revelled in a limitlessly giddy life, until the defeat at the river Tarro 
on July 6, 1495. He was just barely able to force his march with a 
part of his baggage. The Veronese physician Alexander Benedictus 
who was an eye witness related that among the booty there was 
found the illustrated diary of the king in which were inscribed the 
names of all the beauties whose lover he had been, and each one 


was pictured therein with all her charms. In this way did the royal 
libertine hope to perpetuate the memory of the pleasures of his 
insane sensuality in various Italian cities. But this catalogue has 
been lost. The loveliest and noblest of the creatures arranged a 
grandiose spectacle at Chieri on September 6, 1494. They wanted to 
wish the monarch luck upon his arrival and proclaim him the pro- 
tector of the fair sex. Among other scenes which they portrayed for 
his royal delectation was an actual confinement. 

There is one authentic eye witness who has depicted the un- 
bridled life of pleasure characteristic of his time with clarity and 
fidelity, namely Pierre de Bourdeille, Seigneur de Brantome ( 1 539- 
I6I4). His childhood was spent at the court of the queen of Na- 
varre. Henry 11 bestowed upon him the abbey of Brantome, by 
which name he has come to be remembered. After journeys through 
Italy, Spain, England and Scotland he participated in the cam- 
paigns of his time and finally in a sudden fall of his horse sustained 
grave injuries which kept him in bed for four whole years. During 
this period he devoted himself to study and to the writing of his 
works. On July 5, 16 14 he retired to his castle which he had built 
at Richmont, a mile and a half away from the abbey. His most famous 
work, Gallant Ladies, is entirely subjective throughout. We see and 
hear the courtiers who have been bom and reared in fastidiousness, 
and how they trifle away their days. Everything amuses them, for 
everything has a ridiculous side. Brantome is a brilliant chatterer, 
nonchalant and amusing, who blurts out the secrets of discreet 
alcoves with cunning little eyes and corked ears. We moderns are 
attracted by the impartiality of his presentation, and with the un- 
concerned manner in which he treats the most intimate things. But 
the charge of frivolity cannot be maintained against him. There 
are many contributions to sexual pathology in his work. And not 


alone for this reason is it of definite value to the physician as well 
as to the historian. 

His chronicle of scandals contains seven treatises on the follow- 
ing themes — i: Concerning women who cultivate love and make 
their husbands cuckolds, 2: What has the most charm in love — the 
emotion, the face, or speech. 3 : Concerning pretty legs and their 
charms. 4: Concerning older ladies who are as eager for love as 
their younger sisters. 5: How fair and honorable ladies love valiant 
men, and the latter, courageous women. 6: Why one should never 
speak ill of women, and of the consequences that follow therefrom. 
7: Concerning married women, widows and maids, and which of 
these are the best to love. 

These seven headings by no means exhaust the contents of the 
work. Brantome no sooner begins his theme than every name and 
expression calls up an anecdote which he promptly sets down. This 
in turn provides material for interesting parallels, and so he labori- 
ously returns to the starting point — but he doesn't stay there very 
long. For very soon another ton mot or piquant story ensnares him 
which he cannot for all the world pass over. He gives homage to 
the beautiful and "honorable" women who grant their love despite 
marital shackles, whenever and to whomsoever they please, and his 
sympathy is entirely on the side of the fair sex. A tremendous 
amount of interesting material is revealed to us in this work which 
is of great value in the history of culture and manners, because it re- 
veals to us a clearer and more consistent picture of that period than 
could be derived from a thousand sermons. 




THE good old times" to which harmless old souls always refer, 
never really existed. They are merely a Utopia, a beautiful 
and pious wish, but alas! no more. Every century has its merits and 
its weaknesses. No age is really better or worse; it is merely differ- 
ent. The personal viewpoint of the historian is responsible for his 
drawing one age in gray and another in rosy colors. 

In sixteenth century France we already find all genres of litera- 
ture and erotic writers, from the most delicate emotional depictions 
to the foulest brothel-poetry, from the serious learned writer to 
the coarsest and most unintelligent buffoon. And in the France of 
the seventeenth century, there is no lack of erotic light literature, 
nor of anti-royalist and anti-clerical pamphlets, nor of free chan- 
sons, nor of lascivious popularizations and outlines of sex. 

Thus for instance we might mention the pamphlet which Adrien 
de Montluc directed against the government, entitled Infortwie 
des filles de joie siiivie de la Maigre (1648). In this brochure the 
author espouses most energetically the interests of the filles de joies 
whom there was talk of compelling to settle outside the walls of 
Paris. Lupanie, histoire ajnoureuse de ce temps (1668), attributed 
to Blessebois, is generally regarded as a satire directed against the 
Montespan, but erroneously, since this short erotic story portrays 
a middle class milieu. This same Pierre de Blessebois was also the 
author of another work: Le Rut, which contains an indiscreet and 


candid account of his relations with a Mile. Scay. In addition, there 
are extant a number of scandalous stories about Alen9on which the 
author terms a modern Sodom. 

Every one of the crowned heads served as a target for obscene 
jest and satire, despite the extremely strict censorship. For example 
there is the Description de Visle des Hermaphrodites directed 
against the bisexual Henry in, and the Histoire secrete des Amours 
d' Henri IV by Caucont de la Force, which exposes the love-life 
of Henri iv. 

The immoral life of the clergy and the inmates of the convents 
are criticised in Le libertinage secret de cloitre, (1683) and Le 
moine au parloir (1682). The latter work is a collection of more 
than bold tales and anecdotes, in prose and verse, whose chief 
headings will give one a notion of the contents: les tetons naissants, 
la religieuse en chemise, V accouchement, le chat, le ventre litre, le 
bon office, etc. 

Collections of chansons are very numerous. I will merely mention 
the Le nouveau cabinet des Muses gaillardes (1660), reprinted fre- 
quently in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

Among the most important works in the popularizations of sex, 
should be mentioned Tableau de V amour conjugal (1685), by 
Nicolas Venette, often reprinted, and Le nouveau jardin de V amour 

In other words, in this erotic history of France no lengthy proof 
is needed that lascivious literature existed there in the seventeenth 
century. Indeed, contemporary writers confirm the inclination of 
their contemporaries to excesses, and to a naturalistic conception 
of the sexual. Nevertheless, their testimony must be accepted with 
great reservation, for the greatest failing of most historians is the 
tendency to generalize from but a few if true particulars. It would 
be absurd to brand an age as evil and barbarous because immorality 


and brutality were immoderately widespread. There is no doubt 
that erotic manners occupied a predominating place in seventeenth- 
century France; but it is equally certain that there were to be found 
unprejudiced and incorruptible men who did not permit them- 
selves to be swept away by the whirlpool of sensuality but kept 
their heads cool in order to judge the weaknesses of their time. A 
few such will now be mentioned. 

Chief among these writers is Gideon Tallement des Reaux ( 1 6 19- 
1692) whose Histoiriettes is of the first importance for a knowledge 
of the manners and morals of the time. What Brantome was to the 
age of Francis i, Tallement is for that of Henry iv and Louis xiii. 
While Brantome is lengthy and detailed, the later writer is brief, 
succinct, and hence pleasant to read. For a long time the manuscript 
remained unprinted. In 1803 when the library of the Castle of 
Montigny was sold, the Marquis de Chateaugiron purchased it for 
twenty francs, had the 798 folio pages copied. Later, when the 
society of French Bibliophiles was organized, he turned it over to 
them for publication. Since 1833-36 when the first edition appeared 
there have been numerous other editions. 

Another writer of significance is Bussy-Rabutin, the notorious 
author of the Histoire amoureuse des Gaules. He sprang from a 
very distinguished family, entered the military service very early 
and earned great distinction. During the war of the Fronde he 
first served Prince Conde but then took the side of the King. Until 
1659 he was lucky, but afterwards a series of misfortunes descended 
upon him. The most improbable rumors were circulated about him. 
Thus he was reputed, in the company of three cronies, to have 
celebrated the black mass during passion week; and again, to have 
exhumed a corpse with which his drunken fellows danced crazy 
dances. The penalty for these rumored extravaganzas was a year of 
exile. What made his transgressions worse in the eyes of the king, 


was the growing distribution of the Histoire amoiireiise des Gaiiles. 
Bussy had hit upon the idea of writing down the gallant adventures of 
great ladies, partly for his own pastime and partly for the delecta- 
tion of his mistress, Madame de Monglas. Only four or five persons 
were permitted to read the manuscript but one of these few was a 
traitor. Madame La Baume divulged the contents, and what was 
much worse for the author several courtiers were able to persuade 
Louis XIV that his mistress had not fared so well in this work. The 
embittered king didn't hesitate to sentence the foolhardy pamphlet- 
eer, who had had the additional audacity to send him the manu- 
script, to thirteen months in the Bastille. After his release, Bussy had 
to retire to his estate, and it was not until 1682 that he regained 
permission to reappear at court. In 1693 he died at the age of sev- 
enty-five. There is no doubt that Bussy owed his incarceration 
entirely to the king's personal displeasure for there was nothing 
novel in the Histoire to justify his punishment. At the same time 
various other works and collections of courtly gossip had appeared 
and their authors were not molested: Histoire cf amours d' Henri IV 
avec diverses lettres escrites a ses maitresses, et aiitres pieces curi- 
euses ( 1 664) ; and Les Amours du Palais Royal ( 1 66^). All of them 
sought to show that under Henry iv and Louis xiii marital infidelity 
was a pastime, under Louis xrv a rule, and later an obligation. The 
cuckolded husband was regarded not as a tragic person but always 
a comical creature at whose expense one had lots of fun; indeed, not 
even crowned heads were immune from the fate of wearing horns. 
The various editions of the Histoire were naturally secretly printed 
and distributed. 

Bussy-Rabutin can also be regarded as the author of an extremely 
obscene comedy La Comtesse d'Olonne which was circulated in 
many editions. The play is enacted in the bedroom of the Comtesse 
of Olonne. Argenie, who represents the countess suddenly awakes 


in her bed, in a fright induced by a nightmare. In her dream she 
sees her former lover and husband, the duke of Candole. As she 
berates him for his neglect of marital duties he breaks out into 
imprecations, and prophesies the impotence of Argenie's next lover. 
The account of the dream is interrupted by the visit of a friend, 
the Countess Fiesko. Argenie, who has a violent passion for Count 
Guiches, sounds her friend about the latter, and is informed that he 
is a zealous skirt chaser. This news doesn't discourage the countess 
at all and the next scene finds her in a love episode with the object 
of her desires who at first labors under the curse foretold in the 
dream. It is only after many repeated exertions that the Count 
triumphs and then both lovers compliment each other upon their 
venereal prowess. 

An important contribution to the history of morals was made 
by Count Anthony Hamilton (i 646-1 721) in his Memoir es du 
Comte de Grammont ( 17 1 3), in which he describes the loves of his 
brother-in-law, Count Philibert of Grammont, at the court of 
Charles 11 of England. The Memoir es of Duke Saint-Simon also con- 
tain much important material. 

When we turn to belles lettres we find that light literature in 
general which has no artistic aims but is created for no higher pur- 
pose than entertainment, does not evince a particularly high moral 
conception. Stories were proliferated in whole series as well as in 
single works, and no country, historical epoch or personality was 
safe from exploitation as a possible theme. There was nothing that 
could daunt the insatiable commercial ambitions of the writers of 
this fustian. If one series failed, it was refurbished with a new title 
and was once again sent into the world. The curiosity and libidin- 

ousness of readers was aroused by such titles as Les amours de , 

Histoire avioureuse, etc. By the end of the seventeenth century this 


genre which had been losing in artistic value every year was only 
fit for supplementary readings by the unlettered. 

In all these tales the word "love" occurs constantly, and accom- 
panies man from cradle to the grave. Children live in expectation 
of future love, and the aged revel in memories of past loves. But 
withal this "love" is no emotional content. It is merely a means of 
pleasure without any depth, nothing more than gallantry. This was 
perhaps induced by excessive prudishness for in the attempt to ap- 
pear "decent" these scribblers fell into affectation. The effort to 
remove all sensual elements from the sphere of love led to the same 
folly as the converse effort to banish all ethical elements. 

Despite the reign of the precious, mannered style there were 
none the less dissenting voices. Moliere in his Les Precieuses led the 
battle against the current folly and lesser figures helped to prove 
that original wit still could be found. In his humorous novel Franc- 
ion (1622) Sorel de Souvigny poked fun at the idyllic and precious 
tales of his period and included a number of dirty stories for the 
sake of the moral effect. 

Gradually the sexual note became more audible in the higher 
type of novel and play. For the first time a courtesan was displayed, 
without any camouflaging, in the Gustav Vasa of Madame de la 
Force. Soon the password of the time was Volupte, the sentimental 
ecstasy which exercised complete control over the senses and the 
souls of men. The olfactory organ of upright and unprejudiced 
apprentices accustomed to the strong smell of the stable could 
find but little joy in the close odor of the perfumed salon. By the 
side of the ethereal poesy of the precious, the century can show 
a number of strong erotics which have not yet lost their original 
attractiveness, especially the Aloisia Sigea and Vecole des filles. 

Undoubtedly the most famous erotic work in world literature 
after Aretino's Raggionamenti is the Aloisia or Luisa Sigea, as it is 

titled in English. These dialogues of love appeared in 1660. The 
supposedly Spanish authoress who was as a matter of fact a des- 
cendant of French stock and later became court lady to Donna 
Maria of Portugal, was bom about 1500 and died in 1560. Her 
chastity and virtuous deportment brought her many admirers 
throughout the Spanish realm. But this did not hinder the real 
author from bringing her name into connection with erotic ob- 
scenity par excellence. It was perfectly clear to the thinking people 
of that time that no such book could have been composed by a 
woman, least of all by one who led such an exemplary life. Nor 
has the supposititious translator, the famous professor of the Uni- 
versity of Leyden any relation with the dialogue; for the real 
author, the lawyer Nicolas Chorier of Grenoble, composed it in 
the Latin language. The latter lived between 1622 and 1692, became 
a doctor of laws at the age of seventeen, procureur du roi in 1 666^ 
and later was raised to the nobility. He enjoyed a pretty unsavory 
reputation and was, for example, accused of having stolen three 
capitularies from the archives of the Archbishop of Grenoble which 
he later shamelessly sold back to the cleric at considerable prices. 
At the expense of a M. de May, the attorney-general of the Par- 
lement, Chorier's dialogues were published by a Grenoble book- 
seller, one Nicolas. The latter had to shut down his business and 
flee to escape worse punishment, which was only stayed at the 
intervention of very powerful friends. Search was instituted for 
the author but Chorier was passed by since Aloisia contained two 
Latin verses composed by him and published in 1680 among a vol- 
ume containing his own Latin poems. He maintained that these 
verses had been stolen and inserted into the Aloisia to mislead the 

In the introduction the author, anonymously of course, employs 
a trick dear to contemporary authors of erotica. He describes him- 


self as having miraculously come into possession of the lost manu- 
script of Meursius: "It were a pity to withhold these dialogues 
from our generation. Who could be so dull and insensible as not 
to grieve over the deprivation of such piquant, such pleasant, nay, 
such instructive percepts of a merry life?" Chorier had living mod- 
els for the characters of this Sotadicum but we have no key to 
identify them by. Alcide Bonneau claims that there was one copy 
of this \vork in which a contemporary had indicated the key in 
notes scrawled across the margins of his private copy. According to 
this, the heroine of the tale narrated by Octavia in the Fascennine 
dialogue was a certain Anastasie Serment whose beauty, wit and 
free life in Paris were celebrated by Comeille and Quinault. Per- 
haps too Chorier composed preliminary studies for the dialogues 
since he speaks in his memoirs of a book, designated as Anecdota, 
neither published nor shown to his friends, in which he had de- 
scribed ninety-five intimate and scandalous portraits of men and 
women known to him. If these anecdotes are not identical with 
Luisa Sigea, as Bonneau hints, we must lament the loss of a valuable 

Despite the fact that Chorier's authorship was so successfully 
concealed as to prevent agreement even by recent authorities, the 
fiction of the translation from the Spanish seems transparent e- 
nough. Had the manuscript been translated from that tongue and 
were the authoress a Spanish lady, it would appear remarkable that 
practically all the action takes place in Italy, and that all the char- 
acters are Itahans. If examples are chosen from other lands it is 
France and Germany but never Spain that is called upon. Chorier 
probably saw the force of this point himself as time went on, for 
in the Geneva edition of 1678 he added a seventh dialogue which 
is enacted in its entirety upon Spanish soil and by Spanish char- 
acters; but there is no word in explanation of the addition. 


It is perhaps possible that Chorier entertained hopes of revising 
the whole work to make good the omission, but the plan was never 
carried out. It is much more likely that he left many gaps in his work 
which would at once give verisimilitude to his work and thus lend 
it greater plausibility as well as diverting suspicion of its authorship 
from himself. In the latter ambition he was entirely successful and 
he remained unmolested, for no proofs could be obtained against 
him. He was careful not to give any sign that the work was his own 
except for a few small hints in other works. Thus in his memoirs, 
no longer accessible today, he mentions two youthful works one 
of which was of a sotadic nature, which may refer to the dialogues. 
Then too, the edition of 1678 contains a short poem which had 
appeared in the edition of his Latin poems published in 1670. Now 
this poem contains practically the same denunciations of one Tu- 
bero, who was probably a personal enemy of the author, so that we 
must assume a common authorship. Furthermore, in 1 660 he caused 
the work to be printed in the same format with his other works. 
Finally, the style is the same, and the same figurative use of words 
leaves no doubt of Chorier's authorship. 

The six original dialogues are entitled: The Skirmish, Tribadicon, 
Fabric, the Duel, Pleasures, Frolics and Sports. In choice, flowery 
language, with copious erudition derived from Latin writers, Ovid 
particularly, Chorier describes with his unexampled frankness, bril- 
liant wit, humor, and masterful gifts of observation, the shameless 
and lewd conduct of the higher classes of his time. He employs the 
same fidelity as Aretino in the latter's depiction of the mad econ- 
omy of the Roman procuresses and their world. Indeed, Aretino's 
influence is undeniable — not only in the author's high praise of 
this "divine genius" but also in his assigning of the action to the 
same period as the Raggionajnenti (about 1530), and in the use of 
the names of Aretino's friends for his chief characters. 


The other famous work of this class bears the title of Vecole des 
filles^ etc. This original edition (1665) is lost today, but in the 
municipal library of Breslau there is to be found a reprint dated 
1667. The author is concerned to instruct in matters of love those 
young girls who still live with their mothers, in order that they 
may afford genuine joy in the sport of Venus to their future hus- 
bands or lovers. Hence the whole art of love is covered in two dia- 

Robinet, a young Parisian merchant of the time of Louis xiii, 
loves Fanchon who is too naive to know what's expected of her. 
In order to get what he wants, he asks Susanna, a girl of experience, 
to light the flame in Fanchon. The incendiary does her task so well 
that Robinet soon finds a willing ear and perfect delight in Fan- 
chon. In the second dialogue Susanna again visits the other girl 
who describes the events of the devirgination. Both compare ex- 
periences and what one lacks, the other supplies. Poems of praise 
are sung to the genitals of both sexes, and there is a discussion of 
those vicarious devices of love which may fill a woman's solitary 
hours. In brief, we have here a whole compendium of the art of love. 
The author Helot, Milot, Millitot or Milliot, as designated in the 
preface, got into very hot water because of the publication of this 
book. He had to flee, his book was burnt under the gallows and his 
effigy hung upon them. 

They were not very forbearing during that period in their treat- 
ment of authors of such pornographic works. As early as Louis xiii 
it was felt that the art of printing might become a disturber of the 
public peace and a corruption of its morals. Hence from 1 660 until 
1756 some 869 authors, publishers and printers were sentenced to 
the Bastille for works inimical to religion, the state, or morals. For 
a libel against Mme. de Maintenon, two printers were hung in 1694, 
and the other participants severely punished. 



But a generation earlier such a hard fate was already the lot of 
one Theophile de Viau whose life reminds one strongly of Villon's 
except that the latter remains much more sympathetic. A collection 
of very bawdy verse appeared which found but little recognition 
at first, but in 1622 a reprint was issued, augmented by numerous 
piquant pieces which were attributed to Colletet (1598- 1659) and 
Viau (1590- 1 62 6) under the title Le P^rw^y^e des poetes satyriques. 

The earlier work bore Viau's name upon the title page. Viau 
denied authorship but his denial did not help him for very long. 
A year later, the hostile Jesuits accused him of irrehgion and im- 
morality. A bench of judges selected to convict him found the 
charges true and sentenced our poet, after he had fled to Chantilly, 
to death by fire. Bertholet was sentenced to the gallows, and Colletet 
to nine years of exile. On the very day the verdict was rendered, 
Viau's effigy was burnt under the gallows. Shortly afterwards, he 
was arrested and languished in jail for two years awaiting his fate. 
At the expiration of that time Parliament quashed the original sen- 
tence but banished him from France. 

Today we regard Viau's punishment as harsh for there were 
other collections of erotic verse which were tolerated freely. One 
example is Les Muses gaillardes (1609). No fuss was ever made 
about it though there is very little difference between it and the 
Farnasse. From this and other cases, we must conclude that the 
reason for Theophile Viau's persecution was not his immorality 
but his irreligiosity. 

A far greater popularity was enjoyed by a subsequent collection: 
Le cabinet satyrique (1632). This collection is one of the cleverest 
products in the field of panurgic poetry. It is one of the few works 
whose originality cannot be denied, nor should its literary value be 
underestimated. An impartial reader cannot refrain from admiring 
the graceful treatment of single thoughts, and the pointed ex- 


pressions. One must go back to Martial for a similar treatment of 
equally clever thoughts. Anyone of experience knows how mo- 
notonous the erotic theme can become unless wit and humor can 
discover new angles for treating the novel suggestions. Hence we 
can give the full meed of praise to the genius of this much maligned 
poet. The Cabinet is not a whit more decent than the Parnasse but 
remained unmolested by the persecutions which beset the latter, 
because the author was careful enough not to attack religion and 
the church. 

Perhaps a few examples of these witty epigrams will help to 
show the nature of the work. The author would agree perfectly 
with Coleridge that all thoughts, all passions, desires, whatever stirs 
this mortal frame, all are but instruments of love and minister to his 
sacred flame. He would even go further and insist that the sexual em- 
brace is the paramount, propulsive, central goal of all human activ- 
ity. But this embrace is entirely dependent on the whim of the 
Master Iste. 

Hence an impotent man cannot be counted in the council of 
men who can calculate their happiness in accordance with their 
priapic perimeters. Thus a youth who craves the highest favor of 
his lady but who has been but poorly provided is answered by her: 
"Remove it! I'm afraid it's a caterpillar." — If a maiden loves to 
play the flute, the poet knows another instrument for her artistic 
efforts. — Or, "Madame, I bring you a beautiful bird." — "But this 
is no bird." "Well, I admit there is a slight difference. Whereas 
other birds hate to get into cages, this one yearns for it so much 
that it weeps with joy." 

The more or less skillful pretenses of girls who give themselves 
if the man is only daring enough, are jeered at ironically. "I told her 
that I wanted it. She was angry when she heard it. But when I did it 
a little while later I noticed that she thoroughly enjoyed it, although 

she hadn't with her ears shortly before." — A young man tells 
his sweetheart: "I am so full of love I can't sleep nights. You don't 
believe me? Very well. Just let me sleep with you and you'll see." 
— The newly wedded wife asks her husband on the wedding 
night: "Am I not sweet?" — "Yes," answers the newly wedded hus- 
band, "but the devil take the man who taught you it." A cuckold 

returns home in a dark night and uses his marital privileges. But 
when he begins to speak, the loving wife sighs disappointedly and 
murmurs sleepily: "O, it's only you." — When Lisa's song is praised 
"you mustn't say she sings like an angel but that she sings as though 
she were being loved up." 

It is questionable who is more versed in the art — men or women. 
A lady promised a large sum of money to a poet if he would lead 
her into Eden's lovely paradise ten times in one night. "Very well," 
he replies "count out the money and get ready." Occasionally the 
debt to Martial is very obvious, giving the impression of a transla- 
tion. Thus in the case of Lisa who once received a fortune for her 
favors but has since sunk so low that no one wants her even gratis. 
Or when a man sends one of his friends Aretino's posuires but ad- 
vises him to have a girl around lest he become a husband without 
a wife. 

Aside from these verses on special incidents there are many of 
a more general nature: the defense of breasts worn exposed, blasts 
against courtesans, jeremiads inspired by gallant disease, compari- 
son of the instruments of love with all possible things, comparison 
of the two genital apparatuses, paeans to the male organ, and lyrics 
on the female parts. These few comments will afford some notion 
of the highly interesting contents of this compilation. 

The lion's share of this compilation was borne by Mathurin 
Regnier (i573-i6i3),a priest who led a fairly loose life in which, 
to be sure, he differed but Httle from many of his colleagues. But 


intellectually, he stood head and shoulders above them and became 
the founder of the so called classic satire in France. Possessed of 
a thoroughly sensuous nature, he exercised no inhibitions on the 
choice of his expressions. His presentation is naturalistic, but not 
earnest; factual, but merry. His purpose was to make those whom 
he attacked ridiculous, and every means, including obscenity, was 
valid for this purpose. 

Nevertheless, despite their undoubted importance the mass of 
such writings and writers are known only to students of the erotic 
history of French literature and to a number of book collectors 
of erotics. But there is one man of this century who still lives, Jean 
La Fontaine (162 1- 1695). ^^ i^ proof of the contention that to 
achieve immortality it is not necessary to have contributed epoch- 
making discoveries or profound investigations in some realm of 
human research. La Fontaine did none of these things. All he did 
was to write light verse about common themes filled with the charm 
of his own personality. With the same openness and grace that 
characterized his fables he later versified the themes of the old 
French fabliaux, of Boccaccio, Ariosto, the Hundred Merry Tales, 
and Rabelais. 

In 1655 the first volume of his Contes appeared which owed its 
composition to Marie Ann Mancini, duchess of Bouillon and niece 
of Mazarin, the French cardinal and prime minister under Louis xiv. 
The second volume appeared in 1666 and aroused the king's dis- 
pleasure. At a time when the precious bluestockings set the tone 
and when d'Urfee's WAstree was the popular book of high society, 
the open eroticism of La Fontaine could not elicit undivided ap- 
plause. TTie publication of the third book took place in 1675, 
at the instigation of the clergy. Yet on the same day on which 
M. de la Reinie had officially prohibited the distribution of the 
Contes^ as a sapient man, he privately invited the author to lunch. 

When the prohibition seemed to have been forgotten, the fourth 
book was issued (1685). The poet never suspected that his elegant 
and amusing verses could give offense. When he lay on his death- 
bed the shameful character of the book was mentioned to him. 
Whereupon he asked in all naive wonder: "Are they then really 
so bad?" He enjoined his friends to atone for his sins in this manner. 
One hundred copies of his tales should be sold and the proceeds 
given to the poor. In the tale, The Geese, he explains with con- 
siderable persuasiveness that his efforts couldn't possibly do harm; 
that all the furore aroused by his merry jokes was so much ado 
about nothing and that hence it were best to let his work go un- 

La Fontaine's tales are better than their reputation, which doesn't 
say much because they enjoy a vicious reputation. Why? They 
are no better and no worse than the other gallant tales of Piron, 
Grecourt, Gresset which that century and the following one were 
very fond of. If La Fontaine was the first to achieve excellence in 
this craft, it certainly is not to be taken as a proof of his immorality, 
but rather of the playful dallying taste of his age and the mood of 
the people whose child he was. These tales are immoral if we ac- 
cept the moral code of prudes. It is platitudinous that every age 
has its own moral code. La Fontaine is an admirable chatter-box, 
giving the impression that he is having a pleasant chat with the 
reader. Moreover, often he deliberately digresses to present some 
good-humored moral reflections, which justify him to the reader 
all the more. None of his countrymen ever again achieved such a 
graceful tone, such a flexible form as La Fontaine's, who was the 
crowning glory of the erotic literature of seventeenth-century 
France, and the most truthful historian of the morals of that period. 




IN THE cultural history of the Occident there have been two 
great periods of erotic literature — the period of imperial Rome 
and the rococo. To be sure, Greece and the Renaissance contrib- 
uted considerably, but there is little extant of the former and the 
achievements of the latter are far surpassed in magnitude and quali- 
ty by the two first mentioned. But the first two are themselves very 
different. Rome may be considered cynical, raw, crude, coarse, 
extremely frivolous. Yet it cannot be accused of producing witless 
things or aiming merely to arouse sensuality, although there were 
a number of such works according to some of the writers preserved 
to us. 

Utterly different was France of the last half of the seventeenth 
century. Louis xiv with his basic tenet of Vetat c'est moi, and his 
court set the tone. There was now no room for free participation in 
politics, for independent activity in public life. Everything was 
decreed from above, so interest in politics declined. The personal 
element pressed to the front. One lived for sensation only and 
gave in to every excess provided it promised some pleasure. One 
lived for pleasure, took unlimited joy in the commonest of plea- 
sures, that is, the sexual; and one ordered one's whole life to achieve 
a maximum of it. Later, while the ageing king was under the spell 
of the pious Mme. de Maintenon all this joy had to be taken in 
secret. Etiquette was the supreme law and style engendered the 


changed mood. Coat tails were made stiff with wire sieves in order 
to make them respectable and quite unapproachable; collars, cra- 
vats, and gloves were strengthened; the mighty and uncomfortable 
Allonge wig forced one to keep a gravitational posture. 

When the Regent came to power all was changed at once. Grace 
supplanted honor and everything was cut out for ease. Grandeur 
in clothes and in externals had already played their roles; the pe- 
rukes wandered into the old lumber room; now the hair was worn 
powdered and loosely dressed in order not to hinder fast movement. 
Dwellings became less formal and more seductive. No more high 
cold rooms of state, no more grand ostentatious chambers opened 
only on grand occasions. Daily life was now enacted in pretty dis- 
creet boudoirs, in small salons warmly cozy and dimly lit with a 
soft perfumed light seeping through shades of colored silk. Volup- 
tuous paintings beckoned from the walls where blue and white 
predominated; and gold-framed, crystal mirrors reflected pictures 
of ardent pleasures; to these the swelling sofa with easily displace- 
able cushions and the soft yielding fauteuil with its soft pillows 
clamorously invited. Orgiastic perfumes which sweetened every 
healthy and natural odor hung in the rooms and were good pan- 
ders for amorous pleasures, served with multitudinous refinements. 
This joy was more pleasurable since virtue, marriage and fidelity 
were but poorly marketable wares. 

Virtue was regarded as an empty nought. The virtue of most 
creatures seemed only the creation of masculine virtue, and it was 
difficult to guard a treasure to which all men had the key. Marriage 
was regarded as a free hunting ground in which anyone could 
poach to his utmost satisfaction. Mutual love and fidelity — how 
ridiculously was it considered, how insipid, how commonplace! 
The man found all possible joys of marriage with the lovely girls 
of the ballet and the opera; and the woman could have the familiar 


family friend. Marriage was the charter for erotic needs, and in 
this connection Mirabeau's confirmation is interesting. In his letters 
to Sophie he speaks of his relations to the daughter of Mme. Vence 
who one day thus addressed him. "Milord, after she is married you 
may do it as you both please, but pray, permit her to become mar- 
ried first." 

It need not even be sensual lust that spurs one to infidelity, it 
may be just curiosity. Certainly curiosity played an important role 
in predisposing women to infidelity but the desire for change was 
also a motive for inconstancy. The following judgment of a con- 
temporary writer does not by any means correspond with the facts. 
"The times are not become better, they can't be any different, but 
some change may be discerned even if it springs out of tedium and 
disgust with shamelessness. There will be a return to virtue to a 
certain degree because it affords pleasure. At present nothing is as 
much decried as marital fidelity but the prejudice is too strong and 
cannot last forever." There was no need of curbing one's desires, 
or one's lewdness, for the Regent set the example for all of France. 
After his accession to the throne he continued the same dissolute 
life he had lived before. Towards evening he would lock himself 
in the Temple, the former dwelling of the lords of the Temple 
and now the residence of the Princes Vendome, with his mistresses, 
his singers and dancers, and together with ten or twelve associates 
would hold wild orgies, heavily punctuated with obscenity and 

The corrupting life of the court became worse than ever when 
the king of all rakes, Louis xv came to the throne. The rule by 
mistresses had already become the subject of satires and literary 
criticism during the reign of Louis xiv but the "solar" king didn't 
exactly appreciate the humor of these sallies. Thus, he banished 
one day the Italian comedy-players who had been at the court 


since 1661. Saint-Simon makes the following remark anent this 
affair. "So long as these players did no more than discharge their 
filth and their irreligious blasphemies they were greeted with 
laughter. But one day they got the idea of producing a piece by the 
name of La fausse prude which was unmistakably aimed at Mme. 
de Maintenon. Everyone flocked to see it, but after three or four 
performances the theatre had to close and within a month the 
actors had to leave the kingdom. 

Louis XV, on the other hand, left all shame behind. The large 
number of his avowed mistresses did not sufRce to quench his 
tremendous lust, whereupon at the urging of the Pompadour and 
the Abbe d'Aigre he caused a private brothel to be established for 
his own usufruct in the notorious Pare an cerf. At the head of this 
stood the Pompadour who would have to supply fresh goods con- 
tinually, if she intended to keep her place at the rudder. 

When the ex-brothel-inmate Dubarry was advanced to Pomp- 
adour's place as royal court strumpet, many vitriolic pamphlets were 
directed against her because she carried over her brothel manners 
to her new post, and remained open to every flattering court- 
ier however inferior — provided he was potent in love's lists. 

But these active, private orgies didn't satisfy the glowing senses 
of the royal scapegrace. So he had to feed his lust anew. Thus, he 
chose to pander to his libido by becoming a sort of vicarious voyeur 
in the following fashion. He now insisted that the Paris police in- 
form him at regular intervals and in all piquant detail all obscene 
occurrences, and all scandals and sex crimes. Of these, there were 

At this time Rousseau's influence began to make itself felt. If 
nature is good, then pleasure that does not offend her, is both per- 
mitted and justified. The feelings of shame and religious sensibility 
are merely the result of societal influence. Better give men unlimited 


sex freedom. But this cannot be accomplished by one alone; it re- 
quires a complement in others. Away then with modest yearnings, 
with coy wooing for a favor which if granted, one must conceal 
as something prohibited. Ridiculous sham! If love is something 
natural, one should give oneself naturally! 

But the physical receives a value only when the desired pleasure 
bathed in beauty hightens the pleasure. Because the sexual domain 
has always been ruled by women, so women give the tone to love 
when fashion makes sexual pleasure the crowning joy. Never be- 
fore or since has woman had such a dominant place as in the rococo 
period. Despite the fact that she lacked all legal rights, she occupied 
this exalted position due to a coincidence of the factors mentioned: 
a strict but moribund despotism, an educated but disintegrated so- 
ciety, sharp class differences and rising democratic levelling, politi- 
cal weakness conjoined with mental alertness. It was the period of 
tense lull before the tornado; those with weak nerves had to play 
at all costs in order to forget. Now in matters of pleasure woman 
knows no middle way. Once she has put away shame, she far sur- 
passes man in shamelessness. Whatever she desires, she grasps firm- 
ly; even if the interest isn't deep, it holds her spellbound. Because 
her whole thinking and doing is concerned with the erotic, she will 
reveal herself without any concealment whenever man's influence 
is but slight. This influence man had shuffled off. Man was nothing 
more than a lap dog to play with, to heighten joy and arouse ecstatic 
feelings. In this loosening of morals man bore the greatest respon- 
sibility by permitting himself to be harnessed to the triumphal 
chariot of the loved one. Inactivity led to effeminacy. 

This shallowness and effeminacy was stamped on science too, 
and especially on philosophy. The crass materialism of a Holbach, 
Helvetius, La Mettrie and others, led directly to the hunt for plea- 
sure. If life is only a short span between birth and death, if there 



is nothing to hope for or fear after death, then all feeling, thought 
and action are to be concentrated on this life. Ideals which one 
could grasp at for support no longer existed for this sceptical group. 
It was folly to suppress one's impulses, since one could not hope 
for any reward and could find no satisfaction in such a struggle 
and victory. What remained therefore, except to exploit life and 
enjoy it as pleasantly as possible? Duty and self mastery were for- 
gotten words; whatever was not tangible or pleasurable was hurled 
out. Morals erect walls and forge chains; therefore, the walls must 
fall and the chains be broken. It followed that soon all ethical norms 
were denied not out of any deep conviction but because they were 
felt to be uncomfortable. One further step, and marital infidelity is 
regarded merely as the activity of enlightened spirits and the nat- 
ural satisfaction of corporeal hungers. 

However, as artists of pleasure it will not do to forget that the bare 
material delight without intensification of joy, without the ecstatic 
embroideries of the spirit will finally bring ennui instead of perfect 
satisfaction. It was just this to-do, the costly preparations, the mea- 
suring of powers, that conferred a value upon the desired goal. For 
men and women alike the joy in the smart play of "wit" was par- 
amount. Care was taken not to give one's self completely at once for 
the acme of refined pleasure required an alert, if brief, contest be- 
tween the sexes. What was desired was to bind the other, couple 
him (or her) , to strip the character of the other completely, all the 
while remai ning oneself aloof. Coolness of heart is the indispensable 
element in these curious tournaments of sentiments. Every pleasure 
is the result of a fine education, resting on the mobility of the spirit 
which acquired its routine and perfection in the salon. All life had 
the character of the demi-mondaine, why not amusement.^ 

It is so easy and pleasant to become accustomed to the shocks of 
a gallant conversation. See the laughter on their lips as the company . 

listens to the naughty stories, the erotic jokes, the intimate details 
of the chrofiiqiie scandaleuse. The most scabrous details won't elicit 
the start of dismay or the blush of surprise; but the downright and 
forthright recital of known and countenanced facts will bring the 
displeasure of the company down on the head of the uncouth nar- 
rator. Occasionally in a small company one would remove all re- 
straint and completely indulge the desire for obscene words; and in 
this pastime women were in no wise outdone by the roues. Thus, 
it is narrated of the gorgeous lady de Sainte-Julien that when she 
was at table with gallant Abbes, she just loved to say the dirtiest 
words; and so astonishing would the words sound coming from her 
beautiful mouth that she turned the heads of all the men by this 
unrestraint of speech. 

In the salon of Fanney de Beauharnais the receptions lasted from 
eight in the evening to six the following morning. Her chief ad- 
mirers were three realistic poets: Dorat, Mercier and Cubieres, who 
heaped abuse at the classics and earned the title of the truimvirat 
du mauvais gout. In her salon Cazotte and Restif read their auda- 
cious works. When the actress Quinault retired from the theatre in 
1742, she instituted a weekly meeting at her home of choice spirits 
such as Duclos, Abbe Voisenon, Count Gaylos, Crebillon, Mari- 
vaux, Voltaire and Piron. In this Societe du Bont-du-banc, as it was 
known, things were very lively. Tribute was freely paid to the 
Muses and every free joke was applauded, every piquant anecdote 
laughed at if only it was clever. 

If the women as rulers of the salon lowered the level and sanc- 
tioned complete revelation how much more would this undressing 
process take place in the realm of letters. Everybody wrote gladly, 
wrote well, jested wittily and gossiped blithely; there was no trace 
of faultfinding anywhere and one was greedy for success only in 
the art of pleasing. At the early age of fifteen or sixteen the young 


lady would leave the cloister, the general educational institution 
for the highborn, and inaugurate her literary career in the follow- 
ing fashion: Mama would present daughter with a darling little 
secretary, and a perfectly cunning little key. Every night when 
dear mama would shut her eyes in slumber, daughter whose eyes 
had already been opened, would slink to her little secretary and 
pour out her little soul in languishing letters which dallied with 
eroticism or celebrated joys already tasted. But alas! one grows old- 
er. The mirror shows it every day; and what was formerly genuine 
emotion is now pushed into the background, and weighed down 
under a mass of reflections, genuine or more probably factitious. 
The once genuine feeling has become literary and the epistolatrix 
is concerned only with her reflections and the reception of her ef- 
forts. The whole task is undertaken because it is pleasurable in the 
doing, and because it confers pleasure later when one sees one's 
influence upon others. Thus one escapes ennui. 

It could not be otherwise than that women should set the pace 
here too. At the age of eighteen, Mme. de Stael, then Miss Necker, 
wrote highly erotic epistles. Other ladies of the court described 
their first loves, extra-marital loves, etc. in obscene letters. Nor 
must it be supposed that gentlemen did any violence to their feel- 
ings and suppressed all traces of them when they approached 
letter writing. Everyone knows the erotic letters of Mirabeau to 
his two sweethearts. Because of their obscenity the letters of Mon- 
tesquieu were kept under lock. Saint-Simon tells of a love relation- 
ship between a very high cleric, Dom Gervaise, and a nun, and the 
resulting correspondence. 'The whole letter was a mass of vulgar 
expressions mixed with the filthiest words of tenderness and jests 
of a shockingly dissolute monk; her delights, sorrows, and sexual 
yearnings are all depicted with utter frankness and license." 

That this mode of panurgic correspondence was not confined to 


great writers of sentiment or significant personalities but was a very- 
widespread practise, the collections of Beardsley, Paul Dublin and 
Grand Carteret will attest. Some of these letters are very attrac- 
tively set up indeed. Naked cupids, hearts and arrows serve as 
letter heads; letter papers are used which open and close like shut- 
ters. When the pretty one opened the shutter she would see the 
cupids drawing a classic phallus out of a drum, or two grenadiers 
presenting arms. 

Along with such letters stood the Memoires which were nothing 
more than clever gossip and scandal. Since they were responsible 
for many uncomfortable revelations their appearance was not 
greeted with unmixed pleasure and they were criticized rather 
unfavorably. On this point the remarks of Count Tilly, one of 
Marie Antoinette's circle, are interesting: "What is most to be cen- 
sured in these people is not so much the indecency of their rep- 
resentations (I do not speak of the intentionally coarse depictions 
of the orgasm) as their foolish intention or desire to delude and 
persuade that the private vice of the great world is the public mor- 
ality of that whole world. That indecent conversation conducted 
in the boudoir is also conducted in the business office; that young 
ladies of the world are puppies and snot-noses who employ the 
most bizarre and improper jargon for their language; that finally the 
school of the refined court etiquette in France is a sort of quack- 
stall where one hears nothing but candied foulness, broad jokes and 
elegant nonsense. These are the figures drawn by those gentry when 
they desire to depict the morals of the great world. Such depictions, 
in which the most barbarous absence of taste is shown, deserve 
much more censure than isolated sketches of single immoralities 
which are no longer novel or rare in a century accustomed to hear 
such things without shame or blush." 

In order properly to evaluate the worth of the literary produc- 


tions of that period, we must keep in mind how the society then 
was organized. The king was first and last! — the sun to which the 
planets owed their light. His opinion was decisive for society, at 
least for the nobility grouped around his throne. At that time Paris 
was much smaller than it is today. Trains, autos, and other means 
of locomotion were not yet in existence, and people were con- 
demned to greater fixity and immobility. Encounters were not for 
a little while only. Only at Paris and Versailles did the royal sun 
shine. Indeed, both the monarch and the powerful lords profited 
from the royal graciousness, for Louis found no joy in solitary rule. 
He needed praise, admiration, incense — all of which he could ob- 
tain from a group whose gratitude he won through his great 
generosities. His own person had very little that was lovable. On 
the other hand, the pleasure-hungry nobility and clergy could not 
do without the king's open hand. For after one had grown ac- 
customed to the charms of Paris and Versailles it was impossible 
to think of living without them. The income of the neglected estate 
at home was scarcely sufficient for this extravagant life within the 
confines of the royal residence. Therefore the king who desired 
to assemble a rich and luxurious court about himself and to raise 
the nobility and the clergy above the wealthy bourgeois class, as- 
sumed the responsibility of supporting an aristocratic class in ac- 
cordance with its rank. For this pomp and splendor tremendous 
funds were necessary. Since there were not enough positions in 
the royal establishment to fill with the horde of noble parasites, and 
since the illusion had to be maintained that the sinecures and pen- 
sions were granted for some real service, new posts were created 
upon paper with impossible names and functions. Those interested 
in this aspect of the subject would do well to read Taine's La France 
Two vicious results from this profitable dependence upon the 


king were: (i) extravagance, with all its evil consequences and (2) 
the delight in gossip, which derived from the joy of scandal and 
nourished it. The elite, following the example of their ruler, were 
a weak group not made for serious work. But the dreadful idleness 
would have to be filled with something, and in this they were 
wondrously expert. Funds were never lacking, so no wish need go 
unfulfilled; and the more easily they were gratified, the more they 
were magnified. There was no longer any regard for the natural, 
so one sought the unnatural, the vicious; and great perfections were 
achieved in this search. Whoever did not lend himself willingly to 
abuse and did not permit himself to be drawn into the whirlpool of 
unlimited pleasure, was impelled to sacrifice his strongest prin- 
ciples by the sound and shimmer of gold. 

What was not purchasable? Love of parents, children and mate — 
all fell under the sway of the glittering metal. Since virtue was 
listed so low on the exchange, the favor of the fair one could be 
won by him who had the most wealth, and who was, consequently, 
able to drive his rival from the contest. Expenditures and needs 
should be balanced, but alas! human demands are often in excess; 
hence there results a mad rush for gold, a wild pursuit of the favor 
of the king from whose open hand all gifts come. It is, after all, the 
king who will decide whether this or that noble parasite's desire 
shall be gratified. 

The less favored one must think of other means to reach his ends. 
Accordingly, he launches hidden attacks, sometimes more effica- 
cious than those of the rich and powerful. The most popular weapon 
is the libel, gossip, or the pamphlet. Always the gossip must be 
brought into connection with the person of the king if the latter, 
the dispenser of gifts, good and evil alike, is to be enlisted against 
the libeled one. That is why this sort of gossip is common, raw, 
cunning, poisonous, and untrue; for usually no basis exists for the 


accusation. But what of it? The goal has been reached. The libeled 
one has lost, the grace of the king has been gained, and the scandal- 
monger has ingratiated himself into royal favor. Even when there 
is no question of displacing a rival, one still scores a point with his 
royal majesty, who swallowed the Parisian police reports with 
such lusty avidity and who knew well how to price such gossip 
especially if it were filthy enough. 

s This was the public, less attractive side of gossip. The other 
which profaned private secrets was less reprehensible. One had so 
much time — and these petty fellows had very little busmess to 
attend to. One had enough means to gratify all one's desires and 
enough time to gossip about one's neighbor's affairs. Each knew 
the affairs of the other, and since life was regarded from the joy- 
ous side, judgment was not very strict. Why pretend to a mor- 
ality which has no validity? One merely sought pleasant amusement 
and as such, gossip is invaluable. It was whispered that Count X 
found his wife in the arms of the singer Y, that the bosom of that 
renowned beauty was not quite so youthful and fresh as a score of 
years ago; that the pretty Clarice never goes to bed at night with- 
out having made at least three lovers happy. Today the Marquis dealt 
a pair of horns to the duke, tomorrow the revenge has been given, 
and the other head wears the horny emblem. Or a few days ago 
a certain ladies' man got a venereal disease, and some weeks later 
it is whispered that the intimate friend of the household bears 
the same cross. This ominous coincidence arouses laughter but no 
shudder; at the most there is a word of sympathy for the hard luck. 
For it was no more than that in the eyes of this frivolous company, 
since tomorrow some indiscriminate sexual union may bring us 
to the same pass; so let's forestall the evil interpretation now. 

Not only cavaliers enjoyed the favor of women, powerful ser- 
vants or stable attendants were also welcome at all times. Nerciat 


tells us the reason: "Since the gentlemen cavaliers and officers, in 
short all who once boasted polite behavior, gallant conduct and 
honesty, have lost their civility and set no more store by elegant 
deportment which has much of charm for us, the servant who is 
generally well built, well dressed and proud of the attention we 
bestow upon him, is much more serviceable for our pleasures. 
Moreover, he is more trustworthy, and less likely to be hazardous 
to his lady both before and after the relationship." 

In these memoirs the most intimate female charms are described 
with a lack of ceremony that is amazing. Madame Tallien depicts 
for us her bosom and her thighs with the same fullness of detail as 
she expends upon her face. In the diary of a contemporary belle, 
Mme. Celie-Epomine Dupont occurs the following note: "Which 
of my gorgeous dresses shall I wear? It's no matter, for they're 
equally transparent. Recently at a soiiper a friend made a wager 
that my whole garb including rings, anklets and shoes weighed 
more than two silver pieces. I forthwith disrobed and won the bet." 

The number of these secret memoirs is legion, so only a few 
characteristic ones will be mentioned. The life of that time is most 
faithfully mirrored in the memoirs of the prince of all adventurers, 
the likeable Giacomo Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt, bom at 
Venice, 1725, died in Bohemia, 1798. Casanova is another proof 
of the contention that the personality living in perpetual war with 
the laws of the normal citizen has much more of interest than the 
lives of other men, who abide by the conventionalities of social life. 
Today we incline to call him a rascally swindler, but the termi- 
nology of his time recognized no such designation. Crowned heads 
sought his presence, Frederic the Great sought to attract him to his 
court but the arch-restles^ one could not long remain in one spot 
and the strictly regulated life of the average bourgeois was an 
abomination to him. His restlessness is responsible for the uncer- 



tainty, the ups and downs of his life. Today journeying through 
the land in a chariot accompanied by two servants, his pockets 
stuffed with gold; tomorrow once again deprived of the most ele- 
mentary needs, driven to sell his watch for a bit of bread. In order 
to obtain the means for his luxurious life he did not hesitate to 
deceive the credulous. When he played at cards or other games of 
chance he did not hesitate to cheat quite shamelessly; to him it was 
merely to corriger la fortune and he passionately praised his tactics. 
He was frequently brought into contact with the stolid guardians 
of the law who were naturally unable to appreciate his extra- 
ordinary ability; he was also compelled to make the acquaintance of 
the leaden prison of Venice but here too his audacity and astound- 
ing nerve saved him. 

However, when we think of Casanova today, we do not re- 
member the extraordinary wealth of his adventures. He is for us 
the type of all erotomaniacs. Indeed, his name would be known 
to merely a few scholars had he not possessed so inflammable a heart. 
For him love is the sum of life; thus, when, after the inexorable 
flight of time he lost his power over women, he became bitter and 
resigned and withdrew from the world. He never had one definite 
ideal of beauty; it was woman whom he desired. In his round of 
love, red, blonde and brunette sisters lend each other a hand. Young 
or middle-aged, slim or plump, virgin or whore — all alike tempt 
him. He bestows his ardent embraces upon dazzling beauty no 
less than upon repulsive ugliness. With imperious candor he re- 
ports his orgies with two and three, without applying any moral 
criterion to the situation. Undismayed, he follows his natural incli- 
nations and never avoids the pleasure they hold in store for him. 
And despite the breathtaking frankness of his narration we do 
not lose our sympathy, for Casanova avoids all perversity, merely 
regarding woman as an object of natural pleasure to be discarded 


as soon as hunger is appeased. He does not love with his senses 
alone, he gives all of himself and his personality, desiring to be 
loved for himself. He remains true to each one so long as his rest- 
less heart has not been caught in new bonds. In every temporary 
sweetheart he sees a person of like rights with himself and extends 
the same consideration to her desire for pleasure as his own. Hence 
the joy he is preparing for is greater than the experience. His love 
wishes to encompass the object of his interest completely, body 
and soul. 

Witty chatter is an indispensible concomitant of physical sur- 
render; hence his great love for bed-talk. Sometimes his desire is 
doomed to disappointment, and frequently enough the object is 
merely a vessel of impure lust; then he is compelled to appeal from 
Venus to Mercury. But the gods have endowed their favorite with 
healthy blood and soon he has expelled the poisons from his body. 
Such little wounds sustained on the battlefield of love are not suf- 
ficient to turn him into a hater of women. No, indeed not. He sings 
the Canticles of Woman who alone makes life worth living. Wo- 
men know how to appreciate and reward his utter surrender. When 
the delicate hands of one inclination loosen, and the restless one is 
driven to a new garden, to dust the petal of a new flower, there are 
occasionally tears which embitter the farewell; but no hatred ever 
pursues the fickle one. Sometimes, when his love has died, a long 
friendship blooms in its place. The actual process of all his loves, 
the conquest and the liberation from fetters found galling, Casanova 
relates in unadorned truth and pleasurable pride. Yet his vanity 
doesn't lead him to leave everything in a rosy glow. He reports his 
misfortunes in love, the blanks he has chosen in the lottery, with 
the same candor and admits that in his case too. Master Iste has had 
his whims, and on occasion has brought him into the most fatal 
situations. This love of truth at the cost of his reputation, is quite 

a sacrifice to his amour propre. It constitutes the best guarantee of 
the documentary value of these writings deahng with the social 
life of his time. It is this quality which has raised Casanova's docu- 
ment far above the great number of contemporary memoirs. 

There is another work which reflects the erotic morals of France 
during the eighteenth century quite as faithfully, although it is not 
composed on so wide a background. This is the compilation of the 
Memoires secrets by the Royal Censor, Matth ieu Frangois Pidausat 
de Mairobert. He was born in 1707 and committed suicide in his 
bath in 1779, when it became known that certain pamphlets di- 
rected against France which had appeared in the English press, had 
been composed by him. In his compilation of anecdotes not every 
bit of gossip is garnered up without criticism. All the little scandals 
that had been aired with gusto in the salon of Madame Doublet de 
Person by the daily visitors like Madame de Tencin, Du Deffand, 
Geoffrin, Lespinasse, Voisenon, or Piron underwent a very strict 
criticism as to their truthfulness; only after truth had been con- 
scientiously sifted from fiction were they written down by Bachau- 
mont and his successors. It would be more correct to say that 
Bachaumont wrote only the first form and half of the fifth vol- 
ume between 1 767 and 1 77 1 ; and Pidausat de Mairobert took charge 
from 1 77 1 and continued until his death in 1779. Then the author 
of the Private Life of Louis XV assumed control and together with 
a few others accumulated material until the year 1789. 

These articles and memoirs contain more than mere gallant anec- 
dotes. Politics and religion likewise play important parts therein 
but the gallantries occupy chief place. Particularly interesting are 
the notices concerning erotic writings and pamphlets. Naturally 
these memoirs are not to be regarded as trustworthy historical 
sources, for many of them are obviously a result of prejudice, and 
there is certainly no denying the delight in piquant indecencies. 


By and large however they constitute an unsurpassable reflection 
of contemporary social life. 

The second work of this class is UObservateur Anglais (1777- 
78), reworked in Uespion Anglais (1779). This too is probably 
the product of Pidausat's pen although there is no certainty on this 
point. At least this much is certain, that many remarks and verbatim 
quotations from this work were found scattered among his other 
writings. The work contains a collection of satirical and free pieces 
and is a most important source document for the study of prostitu- 
tion in eighteenth-century France. The infamous Mde. Justine 
and equally notorious Mde. Gourdan maintained the most lavish 
brothels in France. They were figures of national importance and 
exercised great influence on the moral conditions of their time. 

There were many supplements to the memoirs of Bachaumont 
and P idausa t. The Marquis d'Argens, for example, served up some 
very saucy details concerning the amorous relationships of the 
French kings combined with anecdotes and satirical verses in his 
Memoir es historiques et secrets (1739). And there were many 
other scandalous chronicles. The most infamous penny-dreadful 
journaHst of this time was undoubtedly Thevenot de Morande 
(1748- 1 803) who proliferated a great deal of smut and obscenity. 
He led a rather active life. At the wish of his own family he was 
held in the Bastille for a while, and upon his release journeyed to 
England. Here he published the Le philosophe cyniqiie and the 
Melanges Confus (177 1 ), both of which caused considerable scandal 
and brought the author a considerable profit. Since his business 
was flourishing, he devoted himself to the accumulation of further 
scandals and anecdotes of a similar type. 

He made a sally against Du Barry with a satiric blast: Vie (Vune 
courtesane du dix-huitihne siecle (1776), and at her instigation he 
was pursued by the London police. As early as 1774 she had sent 



the police inspector Receveur to London to bring the pamphletist 
back to France, but in vain. Persons of high and low degree feared 
his sharp tongue and pointed pen. Hence it was not considered at 
all queer to enter into negotiations with this dangerous pamphletist. 
For a second pamphlet which had already been printed, Du Barry 
paid the author 32,000 lires and assigned him an annual pension of 
4800 lires, whereupon the edition was destroyed. It was only later 
in 1784 that the Marquis de Pellepart dared to lash Morande's 
shameless career in his Diable dans un benitier, but he himself 
brought out many scandalous stories about Dubarry, Gourdan, and 

Thevenot de Morande wrote another amusing work which was 
not quite in the vein of his other satirical blasts. It is called La Porte- 
feuille de Madame Gourdan ( 1783). A strongly augmented edition 
appeared the following year but still the work found far from 
sufficient recognition. The author states that he had come into 
possession of the letters which comprise the volume through a visit 
to Mde. Gourdan and was now giving them to the public. This 
lady was called by the pet name of La Comtesse and was, as we 
have mentioned above, one of the most notorious brothel-keepers 
of her time. She practised her extremely lucrative profession to- 
gether with the equally notorious Justine Paris from 1759 till her 
death, probably from poisoning, in 1783. This work presents a 
paragraph in the erotic history of France far better than many 
thick folios of that time. Here are a few specimen letters to be 
found in Morande's work. 

From Mademoiselle Savigni, 
Paris, July / j, i'J7<f' 
Dear Mama, 

The officer who supported me has had to return 
to his regiment because his furlough is over. I don't know what 
to do and am turning to you for help. You know that I'm a good 



girl, afraid of nothing, and that everything's all right with me 
provided I am well paid for it. I am not of the class that de- 
mands that everything be done according to rules of decency. 
That's nonsense. What do men expect to find? A regular whore 
is everywhere at her post and has every privilege. I hope that 
you will praise my principles and not forget your loving child. 

From Mademoiselle Rancourt, July, 8, ijSi. 

At the Italian theatre yesterday I saw in your com- 
pany a young pretty person. If you can get her for me for one 
night I shall pay you six louis d'or. Entirely yours, R. 

From Mademoiselle Sophie, 
Paris, February 2j, ijS^. 
Dear Mama, 

I've gotten into a hell of a hole with your damn 
Carmelite. He has gotten me into a terrible condition. Never in 
my life have I been so sick. A-Iy physician, for whom I have 
sent this morning, informs me that I shall be sick for at least two 
months. I hope that you will help me and not leave me in this 
condition. After all, I got this wound while under your stand- 
ards. Please send me by this messenger, two louis. You will 
greatly oblige. Yours gratefully, S. 

From Madame Berbier, Paris, April p, I'jS^. 

My daughter is not able to comply with your wish 
at this time. Immediately after the ballet she had a miscarriage. 
As soon as she will be well again, however, she will present her- 
self at A'ladame's, and will be ready for service. 

I have the honor to be your very devoted servant. 

Mrs. Berbier. 


From Mademoiselle Frangois, 
Arpajon, May 27, 77^5. 

I'm only a simple country girl but that I am pretty, no 
one can deny. I am an orphan, and not yet eighteen years old. 
I've heard the servants at the castle say that I have a maiden- 
head which would be bought dearly at Paris and that for you 
Madame, I would be worth much gold. Hence, I have obtained 
your address from them, who laughed at my request but gave it 
to me none the less. If you want me, you have merely to sum- 
mon me and I shall come with my maidenhead. I don't know 
yet what it is, but they say that you will take care of every- 
thing. I remain very respectfuly, 

Your devoted servant. 

From M. T., Paris, 2^rd June I'jj^. 

My daughter is turning fourteen. If you wish we can 
talk about first fruits. It will not be at all difficult to win the 
youngster. With a few bonbons and a little courtesy one can do 
with her what one wills. One only needs certain preparations. 
It will be necessary that you take her to you as chambermaid. 
Please specify the time and I will come with my daughter and 
we shall settle everything. I have the honor to remain in all 
respect, your very devoted. 


From Monsieur de B., May i, i'j'j6. 

I possess a collection of the positions of Aretino in 
forty pictures. Since I am going to Rome I should like to dis- 
pose of them. It seems to me that as a room decoration nothing 
would be more suitable for you. They cost five thousand francs. 
Only a year ago I was unwilling to part with them to (Duke 

de ) for a hundred louis. If you wish to inspect them I shall 

remain at home all day tomorrow. 



From Mr. D. (Book Agent), June 22, ijSo. 

I have just received from Holland editions de luxe of 
the Virgin, Portier des Chartreux, Margo, Positions of Aretino, 
Ode to Friapus, Futromeni, Discourse of Two Nuns, for the 
instruction of young dames who want to enter into society. If 
any of these appeal to you, madame, please inform me at what 
time to bring them. 

This sheaf of letters from the portfolios of the notorious and 
powerful panderess gives us some insight into the nefarious life 
which she and countless others of her ilk led, and the infinite mis- 
chief and corruption they engendered. 




\iNYBODY might become the target of the storm of satire which 
y\ has been just mentioned, but it is obvious that those in high 
places would be most exposed to it, and could find least refuge from 
the downpour. Perverse dissoluteness has always found a fierce plea- 
sure in tearing the veil from the most intimate matters of one's self 
or the other fellow's. It is a debauched delight to display the naked- 
ness of another to a band of spectators, and it is accounted an even 
more voluptuous delight to display one's own. Hence there can be 
nothing more piquant than the publication of these detailed enu- 
merations. Is there any wonder, therefore, at the colossal proportions 
this shamelessness assumed in eighteenth-century France when the 
highest classes engaged in the composition of such scandalous 

The Duke of Richelieu, one of the greatest heartbreakers of all 
time, set down the reminiscences of his youth at the court of the 
Regent. He mentions in his memoirs that a book had been com- 
posed by Madame de Tencin, describing the most obscene practises 
of all the rakes before the eighteenth century, which was destined 
for the personal use of the Regent. These regal voluptuaries sowed 
wind and reaped the whirlwind. Louis xv, one of the greatest of 
libertines, with his corps of mistresses certainly gave ample pro- 
vocation to the most vitriolic satire. One of these satires, with its 
witty allusion to the frigidity of the Pompadour, cost the royal 


minister, Maurepas, his post. During his banishment he assembled 
all possible erotic works and bound them in red morocco adorned 
with his coat-of-arms. 

The King and his mistresses were the targets of the most obscene 
pamphlets. Pompadour was not so sensitive to these malicious squibs. 
In her letters she speaks of a pamphleteer who had composed some 
vulgar verses at her expense but had been compelled to flee to Lon- 
don in order to escape her wrath. "He can always return," she con- 
tinues. "Though I am a woman I can forgive insult, and what's more 
I can reward my friends and compel them, if not to love me, at 
least to have a measure of respect for me". These letters are most 
probably forged. Dubarry was not able to exercise such magna- 
nimity and we have seen above that she took very stern measures 
against Thevenot de Morande. Her published letters too must be 
regarded as historical sources, but are nevertheless of some interest 
for the contemporary moral situation. 

With the ascent of Louis xvi the ball of satire had gained such 
momentum that there was no stopping the stream of anti-royalist 
literature which was directed not so much against him, as against 
Marie Antoinette. As a foreigner she proved an excellent object 
for national hatred, and in addition she provoked public opinion 
in many ways. Her ostentatious aversion to "crapule"; her secret 
nocturnal outings to disreputable inns where firmly believing that 
she was unsuspected, she carried on her undisguised affair with the 
King's brother, the Count d'Artois, a notorious wastrel; and the 
visits to her private theatre where frequently the performances 
were indecent. These and similar matters were not calculated to 
arouse the sympathy of the people. 

In his memoirs. Count Tilly seeks to defend her, "Her appearance 
on the terraces at Versailles where the beautiful evenings and en- 
chanting music called forth the groups of strollers, was a new pre- 


text for libel and malice .... In these nocturnal strolls were sought 
and found the weapons which finally dealt her a fatal wound. 
The mask-balls at the opera and the theatre, the intimacy between 
her and the Princess of Lamballe, her long friendly connection with 
the Duchess of Polignac, offered enough material for accusation. 
Her aversion to court coercion and to the precise obedience of the 
etiquette proper to her class, were regarded as neglect and dis- 
respect of royal duties. And though no one knew better than she 
how to act the role of queen with dignity and grace when she so 
desired, still they interpreted her unforced freedom as immorality, 
and her aversion to some people as irascibility." But Tilly is too 
partial, as he needs must be, to a queen who was very generous to 
him. And it should be recalled that he was not a regular member 
of the inner circle, so that he was not altogether enlightened. Nev- 
ertheless, despite his partiality for the queen, he admits that she 
had two love affairs — with the Duke de Coincy and Count de 

One of the most successful of the anti-court anti-Marie pam- 
phlets was an obscene satire describing her amour with the Count 
d'Artois — later King Charles x; the supposed impotence of the 
King is mocked and the Queen is represented as a model of licen- 
tiousness. At the behest of the court, the whole edition was bought 
from the booksellers at the price of 17,000 francs, and burnt in the 
Bastille. Naturally, a few copies escaped this destruction, and later 
this piece was reprinted by Mercier de Compiegne in his Momus 
redivivus. The notorious story of the necklace was the occasion 
of the pamphlet Le bordel royal, which describes a secret con- 
ference of the Queen with Cardinal Rohan. Of equal obscenity is 
the Bordel patriotique. The Queen and Madame Theroigne dec- 
orate the statue of Priapus with flowers, and use their hands upon 
the statue in a very obscene fashion. This Theroigne woman in- 


stituted a patriotic brothel, and in the freest of language makes 
known the prerequisites and conditions of the brothel business. 
Of a similar nature is the Messaline Franfaise, in which the author 
doesn't hesitate to slander the Queen for having had intercourse 
with him. Of like scope is the book UAutrichiene en goguette, 
attributed to Mayeur de Saint-Paul. The interest here centers, as 
in dozens of others, in a lesbian scene between Marie Antoinette, 
the Duchess of Polignac and Count d'Artois. It is especially amus- 
ing since all the erotic events take place behind the back of the 
sleeping King. 

A pamphlet directed against the whole courtly society is the 
rare and remarkable Bibliotheque de la cour (1781). The peculiar 
thing about it is that every person is characterized by the possession 
of an eroticon which is somehow suited to his character or life. 
Thus, Cardinal Rohan has the Liaison dangereiises; Chevalier d'Eon 
whose sex will always remain a mystery, has Description de Vile 
des Hermaphrodites; Talleyrand, the Archbishop of Lyons, has the 
Traite sur Vapostasie; the Archbishop of Paris has the VArt de 
peter; the Abbess de Polignac, Traite sur les accouchements, and 
so on almost indefinitely. 

Most of these writings were distributed from England or Hol- 
land since France possessed in the Bastille, an excellent means of 
silencing these malicious tongues. For England and other lands, 
there was another remedy. Out of fear of these poisonous pam- 
phlets one entered into negotiations with the authors, through inter- 
mediaries, and sought to buy their silence. This practice, begun 
during the reign of Louis xiv, roused the greed of the malefactors. 
It became a good business, this mulcting the great and near-great. 
It became a regular trick for these wallowers in mud to warn the 
Chief of Police at Paris concerning the impending publication of a 
libel, and then to negotiate for the very profitable sale of the manu- 


script. The breadgiver of these unsavory folk was one Brossiere, a 
former lackey who had barely escaped the gallows. 

If in a land as absolutistic as France, the throne could not escape 
these attacks, it certainly is no wonder that the clergy was fero- 
ciously set upon. The immoral life of many priests, who could not 
be represented as other than "loving", provided enough material 
for fierce satire. The anthologies too, received enough cynical 
verses which censured these clerics in rounds of profanity. It was 
not unnatural that religion itself should finally be blamed for the 
continuous misdeeds and abominations of its professionals. Cause 
was mistaken for effect and the devil exorcised by Beelzebub. Thus 
Evariste Parny wrote Les Galanteries de la Bible, in which he at- 
tempted to make the Bible ridiculous by retelling its love episodes 
in a frivolous manner. 

The first place among anti-clerical pamphleteers was occupied 
by the Parisian lawyer, Charles Gervais de Latouche (17 18-1782), 
with his classic Portier des chartreux which appeared under the 
title of Histoire de Pom Bougre . Bougre derives from Bulgaria, 
from which land pederasty is supposed to have spread. The book 
first appeared about 1 745, though the exact date is uncertain, and 
may be regarded as the naughtiest and maddest mockery of cler- 
icaldom, especially monkery. No other book of its kind aroused 
such a furore and was so frequently reprinted; no other represented 
the monks in their degradation with so much wit and savage satire. 
At the same time, it was a breviary of the art of love perfectly 
suited to the erotic taste of France during the eighteenth century. 
Naturally the offended priests moved heaven and earth to have the 
book destroyed, but in vain; for despite all persecutions the reprints 
were as numerous as mushrooms after rain. Everyone with any 
education read it. Lichtenberg mentions in his Aphorisms and in 



a letter to Dietrich that he has read it, and remarks that it is a very 
witty if a very dirty book. 

Its history too is interesting. It is first mentioned by the Marquis 
de Paulmy in the manuscript of his catalogue. This edition was 
provided with twenty-three engravings by Catylas, well cut but 
poorly drawn. Today there is but one copy owned by the noted 
English collector Hankey. The Marquise de Pompadour had a very 
handsome edition, richly bound and decorated with twenty-eight 
miniatures drawn on parchment. She was very fond of this book 
with its daring philosophy, genial composition, magnificent style, 
and not least, its obscenity. In a letter to Vicomte d'Herbigny she 
speaks of it in terms of the highest admiration and urges him to get 
a copy at once as it afforded her so many hours of pleasant excita- 
tion. Pompadour's copy later came to the collection of Berard and 
was doubtless destroyed with other books of the Arsenal library. 
Of the third edition printed at Versailles there is again but one ex- 
tant copy in the Bibliotheque Mozarine, with a dedication to 
Marie Antoinette. A most valuable and attractive edition of these 
Memoires is the one published by the Cazin press in 1787, dis- 
tinguished for the absolute accuracy of its text and decorated with 
twenty-four lovely engravings by Borel and Elluin. This edition, 
of which one copy is found in the library of the Palais des Arts, 
is also very rare. 

Because of its great importance in the history of French erotic 
literature the contents of the story will be briefly summarized. The 
author looks back upon his stirring life and sees the array of all his 
conquests and achievements. He is presumably the son of a peasant 
couple but in his paternity all the brothers of a cloister were parti- 
cipants. It is quite by accident that Saturnin is inducted into the 
mysteries of Venus. One afternoon he is aroused from his siesta by 
the sound of sighs and groans. Through a hole in the wall he sees 


his supposed mother in the most intimate posture with the family 
confessor. Thoroughly aroused by the sight, he sings the song of 
Hymen with his own hand. As a result of this experience many 
things become clear which have hitherto been obscure, and all his 
wishes are hereafter directed to doing that which the Pater had 
done with his mother. His sister Susanna appears to him to be a 
likely object for the satisfaction of his lust. He finds her picking 
flowers one day and after some hesitation decides to take her by 
force. But she defends herself pluckily, so he desists, especially 
as he sees their mother approaching. Next day they both visit the 
religious preceptress of Susanna who is suspiciously tender to both 
but particularly to Saturnin, who is daring enough to venture some 
amorous contacts. The untimely arrival of the administrator pre- 
vents him from using his advantages, but he is invited to come 
another day. On the way home he again seeks to make Susanna 
comply with his wishes and to his great surprise learns from her 
statements that she knows much more about such matters than he 
does. After some struggle she informs him how she came by this 

One night while she was asleep at the cloister where she was 
being educated. Sister Monika had slipped into her bed and initiated 
her into tribady. In the ensuing conversation Monika sings a paean 
to the male organ and is astounded to discover that Susanna doesn't 
know the names for the genital parts. Monika confesses that while 
very young she had felt intense sex desires and had made various 
efforts to cool her heat. Since the manipulations of manustupration 
no longer satisfy her, she casts her eyes upon the brother of one of 
her schoolmates. She offers no resistance to his approaches but they 
are discovered while still in the preliminary stages. A strict investi- 
gation ensues and Monika is sentenced to chastisement but she de- 
fends herself so wildly that six nuns are no match for her. In the 


scuffle there drops from the pocket of one of them a godemiche 
which Monika attempts to use as soon as she is alone. When she 
finds no success in this she desists in great disappointment but de- 
cides to revenge herself for the treatment she has received, and 
then to disappear. The Another Superior reproaches her severely 
for her conduct of the previous day, but becomes all kindness when 
Monika shows her the instrument, as an example of the sort of 
thing that goes on in the cloister. At once it becomes obvious from 
her embarrassment that the Mother Superior is the owner of the 
article. When Monika's mother arrives in answer to a summons, she 
is informed by the Superior that her daughter is perfectly innocent 
and that the summons had been a misunderstanding. 

During the night Monika has an erotic dream and realizes when 
she awakes that it has been no dream but reality, for she finds her- 
self in the arms of the valet to the nunnery chaplain, and had thus 
painlessly lost her maidenhood. One night of love succeeds another 
and soon Monika notices that she is pregnant. Tearfully she informs 
Martin, her valet-lover, who comforts her with the assurance that 
his master has a medicine which can remove the disagreeable con- 
sequences. This medicine has been used successfully by Angelica, 
one of the six nuns who had sought to punish Monika. This he knew 
from Angelica's letters to his master. Thereupon, Monika decides to 
have her revenge and orders Martin to bring her the letters — and the 
medicine. She succeeds in getting the letters to the Mother Superior, 
and the latter, jealous of the favors of the chaplain to another, in- 
carcerates Angelica. The chaplain suspects Martin of having pur- 
loined the letters and dismisses him. The end of the narrative brings 
another love scene between Monika and Susanna. 

This lengthy recital has excited both Satumin and Susanna con- 
siderably, and the former, tense with passion, is now convinced 
that he will meet with no opposition if he is but able to assure 


Susanna that there will be no evil consequences. Just then he 
gets an idea. He takes the girl up to his room and lets her be the 
eye witness of the sex play between Pater Ambrosius and Toinette. 
Susanna is so overwrought that she makes no resistance whatever. 
Attracted by the noise, the Pater and Toinette become aware of 
the others' game. The latter is at first speechless, then takes Satumin 
into her room to instruct him in the mysteries of Venus. The Pater 
who had remained with Susanna was not quite so fortunate. Since 
the boy is in the way of the Pater and his love, he is sent away to 
the pension of the local priest. From here he visits Susanna's nun 
who gives him happiness. On one of the following nights he seeks 
to gain his end with the priest's niece but misses her door and 
enters the room of the old governess instead. The next day he 
enters the cloister, and with this the first part is concluded. 

The second portion deals with the experiences of Saturnin in 
the monastery in which he finds himself very uncomfortable at 
first. With no women present, he once again falls into the sin of 
self-abuse. A fellow inmate once comes upon him as he is engaged 
in this pastime and invites him to become acquainted with the ex- 
cesses of the brothers in the church. The novice participates in 
these orgies, and at one of them makes the acquaintance of his real 
mother who requests him to cohabit with her; a vestige of shame 
restrains him, for which the monks praise him. After an excursus 
concerning the delights of venery and cloister life, Satumin tells 
of his impotence induced by excessive indulgence. An old Pater, 
in whom he confides, advises him to become father confessor — for 
the piquant confessions of the lovely confessors are not to be 
despised as aphrodisiacs. 

Saturnin follows this advice and soon feels himself in possession 
of his virile powers. In his new potency he rapes a pretty confessor, 
who turns out to be Monika, Susanna's bosom friend and mentor. 


She reports that she had carried on a simultaneous relationship with 
Verland and the valet Martin, who had come to blows when they 
discovered their partnership. Hence she had fled to Saturnin, and 
wished to remain with him. He decides to have her participate 
in the orgies of the cloister but his plan meets with failure. In his 
absence they find Monika, and to escape punishment by his order, 
he flees to Paris where he meets Susanna in a brothel. Despite her 
struggle and her warning that she is sick, Saturnin cohabits with 
her. During their sleep there is a raid and in the confusion they are 
separated. He finally gets to the hospital in a grave venereal con- 
dition, the outcome of which is that he is eunuchized. Susanna dies 
of her sorrows, and with these tragic events the book closes. Thus 
are the ways of sin rewarded. 

This book which may justly be regarded as the standard work 
of erotic anti-clerical literature had an enormous vogue. Frederick 
the Great found it in the equipment of French officers. It was 
therefore natural that in a time which was almost delirious about 
sex, it should call forth a host of imitations. The chief of the fol- 
lowers of Gervaise who sought to justify their debaucheries by 
attacking the church, is indubitably the Abbe Henri Jos. de Dulau- 
rens (17 19-1797). All his life he harbored a berserker rage against 
the Jesuits. He was finally rendered invulnerable; the last twenty 
years of his life he was confined in a mental hospital. He it was 
who said that he knew God only from heresay. His most famous 
works UArretin Moderne and Le Compere Mathieu are cynical 
in the extreme. 

The first book is preceded by the almost prophetic phrase: 
Parve, nee invideo, sine me, liber ibis ignem. This work contains an 
obscene criticism of the Bible and religious observances in twenty- 
five stories. In keeping with the ideas of the time, the book is an 
apologia for vice. It is an endeavor to remodel ethical values and 



to defend the lax morals of the author. The wish to appear orig- 
inal is transparent but the proof of the positions assumed are mere 
sophistry, and the inner mendacity and emptiness of the author 
leers at us all the time. This whole offensive against the clergy 
lacks wit and the book has been worsened considerably by the 
frivolities that weigh it down. What for example does Dulaurens 
hope to accomplish by the silly tale of the godemiche? A Father 
Superior has impregnated a nun and enlists the aid of an old witch 
who advises him to feed the unfortunate one mandragora roots and 
other ingredients to the accompaniment of magic incantations. He 
follows this advice and the nun gives birth to no human creature, 
but to a godemiche. This comforts a number of nuns and he finally 
breathes his last while in the arms of the decrepit sorceress. This 
tale does not stand alone in its absurdity. 

The fifteenth story is the most cynical and paradoxical — it deals 
with the theme of L' Utilite des vices. Dulaurens takes the position 
that vices are more useful to society than virtues. The latter are 
sterile, uniform, monotonous — in short, chimeras to keep men in 
darkness. Vanity and egotism are necessary if the world is to go on. 
Crimes are many and diverse and nature itself develops the seeds 
of our vices. Love is the indispensable sin for society. Passion is the 
favorite child of nature. A passionate girl affords more joy than a 
virtuous one, and it is lust alone which makes us love women. It 
takes a man who embraces a virtuous girl a long time to experience 
the joys he can find among the girls of Montigny. Man cannot be satis- 
fied with one woman. How many days are there when his wife is in- 
accessible to him owing to menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth! 
Hence, he must wander to other pastures; and while society is con- 
demning him to continence, by opposing it he has made many 
additions to the population. Passion performs a public service for 
it prevents hoarding and keeps money flowing into industry. 


Of similar scope is the second work, Le Compere Mathieu. In his 
customary blending of frivolity and blasphemy, Dulaurens rep- 
resents religion as something unnatural, and he establishes the rel- 
ativity of good and evil; wherefore, all is permitted and punishment 
doomed to pass away. This is the true evil and the source of it all is the 
state which is also fated to disappear. A third work by the same 
author. La Chandelle, is an obscene mock heroic poem concerning 
the fortunes of a strumpet healed of her illness through the inter- 
vention of the Virgin Alary. It depicts with great clarity the female 
practices in the nunneries. In this same fashion, writers like Eva- 
riste Parny, Voltaire, Voisenon and Mirabeau wrote. Parny's work 
on the war of the gods and the gallantries of the Bible, La Chris- 
tainide, was strenuously suppressed by Napoleon and during the 
Restoration it was finally bought up by the government and con- 
fiscated. These anti-clerical attacks fell in with the taste of the 
time whose influence few could escape. 

A most important work, perfectly typical of erotic eighteenth- 
century France, for it contains more fact than fiction, is the work 
Therese_^htlQm^he. Although the authorship is doubtful it may 
with strong probability be attributed to the Marquis d'Argens who 
was the author of other erotica. There are many grounds for this 
attribution, and that it was suspected a long time ago may be seen 
from the following interesting anecdote. Frederick the Great had 
painted the most important scenes of this work and ordered that 
chief figures be painted to resemble Marquis d'Argens and Madame 
Cochois. Once the Marquis' room was secretly decorated with these 
pictures which "greatly astonished milord but pleased him little". 
In reality, however, this fuss about authorship is vain for we are not 
dealing here with creations of fancy. The contents of the book are 
based on actual incidents which had taken place some time before. 
Catharina Cariere (Eradice), the pious and beautiful daughter of a 


rich merchant, had entered the native confessional institution for 
women estabhshed by the Jesuit Girard Dirrag. The lubricity of 
the monk immediately directed itself toward this shy young crea- 
ture. By using her dreams and visions for his shocking purposes and 
invoking an attenuated sex mysticism, he finally succeeded in 
making the girl accessible to his erotic desires. The uninterrupted 
orgiastic erethism and the excessive spiritual raptures induced a 
grave hysteria in Catharina; and when she became pregnant the 
Jesuit knew how to employ an efficacious abortive. The matter 
finally got to the courts and despite general disappointment, the 
court freed the man and, what is worse, sentenced the unfortunate 
girl to pay costs for libel. 

It was this true material which the author employed in a devastat- 
ing satire against the clergy and religion. A supposed eye-witness, 
the philosophical Therese describes the proceedings, informs us of 
her own reactions to them, and throughout her views concerning 
the rational satisfaction of human love needs. Although there are 
obscene incidents aplenty, these are overlooked, due to the para- 
mount importance of the book as a source document of social and 
erotic history; for this reason it has defied all attempts at sup- 

In order to characterize the style and thought content of the 
work two excerpts from different portions are appended. It is ob- 
vious that the doctrines are by no means harmless, and are cal- 
culated to induce considerable confusion in the minds of readers 
who lack judgment. 

The first aims to disprove freedom of the will. We are com- 
pelled to act by various factors not in our control. The kind of 
organs, the distribution of nerves in our body, a certain type of 
movement, the absence of particular juices, all these variables con- 
trol our passions, whose strength determines our will in the most 


important relationships of our life. Accordingly there are passion- 
ate people, wise people and crazy people. The last mentioned are 
no more or less free than both other types for they also act in ac- 
cordance with the same fundamental laws. If we are to assume 
that man is free and follows his own will, we set him on a plane 
with God. Foolish people to believe that you have the power to 
suppress the passions implanted by nature! Shall human creatures, 
the handiwork of God, suppress their passions or destroy them and 
thus attempt to appear mightier than God? Let things be as the 
old creator has made them, for all is good and must be as it is. 

We can see at once that if the freedom of the will is denied, and 
passion is not to be opposed because it has been placed in us by 
God, every man is free to give himself over to debauchery accord- 
ing to the measure of his power. Indeed he must do so, for "God 
wills it". 

The second quotation is an abridgement of the seduction scene, 
expurgated to omit all the obscenities of detail and description. 
The Pater enters the confessional room and asks his pupil: "Is the 
stigma that you have on your breast still in the same spot? Let me 
see it? " Eradice immediately uncovers her left breast beneath which 
the stigma is located. 

"Ah, it is still there, rosy and red. Saint Francis still loves you. 
And I have once again brought with me a piece of his rope which 
we shall use at our exercise later. We shall have great reward, dear 
daughter, if you fulfill your obligations. This holy exercise will 
shower you with ineffable bliss, thanks to the rope of the sacred 
Francis and your own pious contemplation. On your knees, my 
child. Expose that part of your flesh which arouses God's wrath! 
The pain you feel will bring your spirit into connection with God. 
I repeat: forget yourself and let everything happen to you." 

Eradice obeyed at once in silence. Holding a book before her, 


she kneeled and lifted her skirts and undershirt until her girdle, 
discovering snow-white and perfectly formed buttocks carried by- 
two splendid thighs. 

"Raise your skirt higher," he ordered. "Now that's better. Now 
fold your hands and lift your soul to God. Fill your spirit with the 
thought of the eternal bliss destined for you." He kneeled down, 
raised his cowl high, tied it with his girdle, and brought forth a 
thick bunch of long rods which he gave the girl to kiss. She obeyed 
silently. The Pater feasted his eyes hungrily on her thighs and 
whispered to himself: "What a beautiful bosom. What charming 
breasts." Presently he arose and murmured a Biblical phrase. Noth- 
ing escaped his lascivious curiosity. Finally, he asked the beautiful 
penitent whether her soul was in devotion. 

"Yes, worthy father. I feel that my soul is becoming separated 
from my body, and I beg you to begin the holy work." 

"That suffices. Your spirit will be satisfied." He said a few pray- 
ers and then administered three light blows upon her hind quarters, 
followed by another verse. Finally, the holy rope got into action. 
One can readily understand what sort of rope it was. 

Of course every one at all acquainted with the history of French 
culture realizes that the case of Pater Gerard does not stand alone, 
and that intimate relations between confessor and penitent were 
not infrequent in those days. Today such a contretemps would not 
raise so much dust though every year a number of such are re- 
ported in the newspapers. One may compare the similar case of 
the Abbe Reginald Outhier who however defended himself very 
skillfully in his Dissertation theologique sur le peche du confesseur 
avec sa penitente. 

In 1760 there appeared Les Delices du Cloitre and Les Lauriers 
ecclesiastiques, the work of Jacques-Rochete de la Morliere, the 
famous author of Angela. This La Morliere ( 17 19-1785) was a bad 


sort. Originally destined for the law he was disqualified, entered 
the army and had to flee because of a scandal. Having been dis- 
owned by his family, he turned to writing romances in the style of 
Crebillon the younger. Difficulties with the police resulted in his 
flight. Upon returning he took to the drama but was hissed off the 
stage. In desperation he became a cliqueur and gradually sank deep- 
er into misery. The first of the above mentioned writings scores 
those parents who still believe in the purity of cloister life and 
immure their inexperienced girls without consideration for their 
love desires. He believes that there is no better way of lashing the 
wicked life of the cloister than a frank exposure of the vices that 
teem in those institutions. His expose is never obscene, though per- 
haps too informative. His moral lessons are obvious and persuasive. 
Two nuns, Julia and Dorothea are conversing. The first reports that 
the cloister physician is preparing for an amorous affair with her 
and describes his palpations and her shyness. Dorothea enjoins her 
not to permit her lover to languish in vain. Julia takes her advice 
and the next scene discovers her surrender. 

The other story, based largely upon facts, departs somewhat 
from the scenes of clerical life and journeys merrily into high soci- 
ety. The Abbe Terray, a contemporary of La Morliere, visits his 
uncle and becomes acquainted with the latter's soul-friend who 
after some hesitation grants his love-request. Their pleasure is 
heightened because they take their joys on the same bed on which 
the cuckold reposes and in his immediate proximity. But the happi- 
ness of the lovers doesn't last long. A young serving maid has fallen 
so violently in love with the abbe that she finally goes to his room 
and declares her love. The happy man must now share his love with 
two women. The Marquise promptly discovers this through her 
spies. Her jealousy is aroused to such a pitch that she has the young 


abbe transferred to a distant abbey and the little chamber pussy 
cat married to a bourgeois. 

The exiled one takes his luck with him, however. On the way he 
meets a charming lady whose coach has broken down. He offers 
her the use of his own vehicle, becomes useful in other ways and on 
the morrow receives the siimmum bonum. But he soon realizes that 
he is sharing his beloved with a brawny Franciscan. He and two 
cronies administer a solid drubbing to the latter when they find him 
in delicto flagrante with the charming lady. In the meantime, the 
father of the young abbe has died and the latter must return home. 
He has a slight dispute over some boundaries with a neighboring 
duke which he settles in favor of the latter. The duke is so over- 
joyed at this eventuality that he presents the abbe to the duchess, 
while the lady is still in bed, and leaves the two alone. He assists at 
her levee and, though disturbed by an untimely visitor, proceeds 
to the onslaught successfully. 

But for the nth time, he finds that there are other men in the 
world, for he surprises his Dulcinea in the arms of her servant. He 
foreswears the unfaithful one, and returns to his uncle where he is 
present at the investiture of a most beautiful nun, whose parents 
are compelling her to assume the veil. He falls in love with her and 
all obstacles are overcome. At the death of the girl's parents, both 
renounce the clerical life and the abbe leads the nun home with 

In another important book of a similar nature, Venus dans le cloi- 
tre^ which appeared at the close of the seventeenth century but 
was many times reprinted in the eighteenth, two nuns, Angelica 
and Agnes, chat about the amorous regimen current in the cloister. 
Free indulgence is defended with philosophic cliches, and coun- 
selled as a way of life. This book also shows that erotic literature 
was well known to the ladies of the cloister. Liiisa Sigea comes in 

for a special meed of praise, and in one place a catalogue is given 
of a series of porneia, all lost today, but whose titles amply testify 
to their strong anti-clerical tendency. 

If these works were occasionally written for a purpose, they 
nevertheless in their totality constitute a true picture of the im- 
moral deportment of the church and many of its servants. Indeed, 
we possess enough historical witnesses to confirm the truth of these 
pamphlets, for instance: La Chastete du clerge devoilee ou Proces- 
Verbaux des seances du clerge chez les filles du Fans. Trouves a la 
Bastille (1790). This is authentic material. Here we find the exact 
names, status, and residence of those clerics who were caught with 
prostitutes before the Revolution. The list is long though only a 
small proportion of these debaucheries became public since most 
of them were naturally carried on secretly. 

There are two more far-reaching works which have to be con- 
sidered, since their revolting cynicism opens invaluable perspec- 
tives upon French society of that time. The first is a book of six 
songs, each of which contains three hundred verses. The title is 
La Foutromajzie, and the author Senac de Meilhan. Gods and man 
alike have joy in foutromanie, the former to dispel their ennui, the 
latter for their very happiness. Mile. Dubois, actress, of the Comedie 
f ran^aise, cannot be without it. Mesdames Arnould and Clairon with 
their parner Count Valbelle are passionately devoted to it; and 
Mme. Allard has probed the utmost refinements of it with Duke de 
Mazarin. At the conclusion of the first song the duchesses and court 
ladies march in and have dalHance with their lackeys. The second 
song is opened with a description of the corporeal delights of a 
virgin who has fallen into the clutches of a roue. After the inter- 
polation of Chrysostom against sexual debaucheries in the cloister, 
there is broadly related how one afflicted with satyriasis enters a 
monastery and how he ministers to his blazing desires. This affords 


the author the best opportunity to attack the vices of tribady and 
pederasty. Towards the close, de Meilhan mentions syphilis which 
forms the transition to the third song, almost entirely dedicated to 
this disease. The author cannot sufficiently praise the now per- 
fected means of curing the malady. Many luetic lovers are adduced 
and the luetic prelates come in for special mention. The song ends 
with a praise of Aretino, the discoverer of the plastic positions. The 
fourth song emphasizes the great advantages of the bordello. A 
hymn of praise is sung to the great procuresses: Paris, Gourdan, 
Montigny, d'Hericourt Carlier, etc., and then we are permitted to 
witness passionate orgies in these dives. The song is concluded with 
a praise of German women and a curse upon Italy where the author 
had lost health and money. The fifth chanson seeks to allay the fears 
of syphiliphobes. Not all women contain this abominable ailment. 
Montesquieu, Rousseau, Marmontel dared and came out unscathed. 
Finally the timorous are encouraged by pointing to the example of 
Maria-Theresa, Catherine ii, the King of Poland and the deceased 
Queen of Denmark. The last song is a paean to Dr. Agyroni who has 
cured the author of his disease. After a display of his medical 
knowledge on the subject the song culminates in a repeated eulogy 
of Foutromanie as the pillar of the world. 

This book served as a model for La Masturbomanie, in the fore- 
word to which the author states that he sings the incomparable joy 
of Onan, the independent self-created pleasure of man, and one 
most worthy of a philosopher. 

The other far-reaching work that serves as a companion piece to 
Foutromanie is ParapiUa, a book of five songs written by Charles 
Bordes. It tells the story of a wonderful instrument which is the 
joy of all ladies. Rodric receives it direct from heaven; from him it 
gets to Donna Capponi, to a nunnery and finally to the hands of 
Lucrezia Borgia. This affords the writer an excellent opportunity 


to describe the wild life under Alexander vi. Although this work 
was not published until 1775 it was known earlier; in 1773 Voltaire 
in a letter to Bordes had termed it one of the "best books of this 
genre that we possess". In his memoirs, Bachaumont makes some 
perspicacious remarks concerning this book. He points out that 
despite the obscene subject matter there is not an obscene word to 
be found in it; in keeping with his theme the fabulist had drawn 
very free pictures but always veiled and with the most decorous 
means. He asserts that there never was a merrier or lighter volume 
than this short epic of folly and choice taste. 

The readers for whom the above mentioned works were in- 
tended did not, naturally, belong to the circle of those normal, 
naive people who find pleasure in bathing nymphs and enraptured 
shepherds. For the readers of this erotic literature of the eighteenth 
century, strong stuff was needed, cynical and urmatural, for their 
jaded senses would not react to ordinary or high literature. 



THE theatre has always been the best mirror of morality in 
any age. When life became more than free, the boards 
swarmed with frivolity and obscenity of every kind. In twenty- 
three theatres the muse wore her skirt as high up as possible and 
pornographic clubs multiplied and came out of their concealment. 
Pamphlets, comedies, vaudevilles, even parodies upon operas and 
musical pieces had to include the erotic touch. One contemporary 
avers that the works of Crebillon junior were moral by comparison 
with these small pieces which laughed hilariously at all virtue. But 
no matter how far some had gone, there were still many poets and 
mimes who refused to say obscene things. However, in a small 
intimate circle there is no need for any inhibition, not even of the 
most extreme perversity. Hence private theatres were established 
in which no bounds were set to any word or deed. Behind the 
grated lodges of these small secret theatres, the noble ladies of finest 
society might witness the erotic plays which showed priapism and 
philosophy in strange mixture. The famous dancer Guimard had 
such a theatre in her country home at Panin for which Colle sup- 
plied the shows. We must not make the mistake of concluding that 
these secret theatres were the original creation of the rococo period. 
They are as old as the theatre itself and as justified to a certain type 
of human being as when the odi projanum viilgus was first uttered. 
The wealthy lover of the theatre provided for himself a stage on 


which those plays that would gratify his own taste would be pro- 
duced. This is no more unnatural than the corresponding fact that 
poets will always be found who will drive their Pegasus to a water- 
ing place of excrement for the sake of money. The old French 
writers of farces may here be remembered; and that Bussy-Rabu- 
tin's Comtesse (VOlonfie is as characteristic of its century as the 
Theatre de la rue de la Sante is of the nineteenth century. But it does 
remain true that the rococo period has the doubtful distinction of 
being richest in these erotic theatres. 

The indiscreet deeds at nunneries form the subject of derision in 
various pieces. Colle composed a skit about four bishops called 
Accidents, which by his own testimony was so obscene that he 
dared not print it. Very numerous were the revolutionary comedies 
directed against church, state and monarchy. In 1791 there was 
a public theatre at the Palais Royal where a so-called savage and 
a woman performed coitus before a crowd of people of both sexes. 
Finally both actors were summoned before the justice of the peace 
and it turned out that the savage was some rascal from the suburb 
of St. Anthoine, and the woman a common whore who had earned 
considerable sums by such pandering to the pruriency of the public. 
If the latter could not be actors in these spectacles at least they 
could be spectators; and La Mettrie remarks in his VArt de Joiiir: 
The sight of others' pleasure is our own. 

To obtain some insight into these orgies of the better society one 
should read Co?jfessio?is generales des Princes du sang, otherwise 
one will never understand the lewd royalistic tragedies which 
existed at the time. Or failing this, one should thumb La France 
foutue. These are the indispensable documents for the history of 
erotic elements in political caricature. On the title-page one sees 
Louis XVI sitting on the penitent's seat in line with other penitents. 
On one side kneels a high courtier and on the other a princely 


strumpet. A brief resume of the plot is now appended. The char- 
acters are: 

La France 

England — brothel mistress ivho oixms a brothel at the Duke of 

Orleans' castle. 
Mlle. Vendee — a lady of honor and intime of France 
Duke of Orleans — brothel monger 
Count de Puissaye — king of rogues 
Frederick William III 
Francis II of GerxMany 
Charles IV of Spain 

Three knights, five English women, five pages of the Duke of 

Orleans, troops and citizens. 

The action takes place in the private chambers of the Duke of 
Orleans at the Palais Royal. The theatre represents a luxurious 
boudoir equipped with many sofas. 

Act I 

Frederick William III, Francis II, Charles IV and the Duke of 
Orleans are engaged with an equal number of Englishwomen, 
each one on a sofa. One bares the boso?n of his woman and kisses 
the breasts, another fondles the dorsal hemispheres, after he 
has hiked her skirts up to her girdle, a third uncovers his wench 
aft and explores the decks there. The women are standing or sit- 
ing on the knees of their men, depending on the position of the 
latter. England lies on a couch in the center in a very indecent 

Act II 

In the instant in which the three kings carry Madame France to 
the couch, the five Englishwomen enter, each carrying a differ- 
ent object: a bidet, a pot of water, a sponge, perfume bottle, and 
finally underwear. Puissaye makes an obscene gesture to the 
Vendee woman and draws her to a sofa alongside them. Duke 
of Orleans hies him to the opposite sofa with England and exer- 



cet actum de retro. Francis and Charles stand behind the couch 
as expectant observers and manustupratione se delectant, while 
Frederick rapes France. 

Act III 

In this scene Orleans, Puissaye, followed by the Englishwomen, 
enter the stage from the rear. Armed citizens also enter the rear 
a?id the sides. After them, grooms enter on the right and pages 
on the left. The citizenry in battle formation take their place in 
therear,thepagesfallonthewomen. At the command of the Duke 
of Orleans to his satellites a stall slave comes forward, two others 
approach from another side and all assume obscene positions. In 
the background the Englishwomen are seen with their pages; 
presently the armed ones push the pages aside and demonstrate 
the vice of sodomy. In the foreground, Puissaye sits on his sofa 
and attei7ipts to rape Vendee but she struggles viciously. Sud- 
denly the duke cries out, and all stop suddenly, staring at him 
on his deathbed. Vendee leaves Puissaye to go to La France but 
Puissaye kills her. The three kings regard this scene with bent 
arms, whereby it is clearly indicated that they regard with 
equanimity how France dismembers itself. 

La France foutue is the full-grown flower of eroticism, the sad- 
ism of the ancien regime which completely expended itself on sex- 
ual perversions and was unable to enjoy anything other than vicious 
erotic experiences. According to Dr. Bloch this work derives from 
the Marquis de Sade, but this is unlikely since he was a thorough 
republican, while this writing must have had a royalist as its author. 

Several additional theatrical pieces of importance will now be 
considered but no attention will be given to the merely erotic. 
Our purpose is to demonstrate the diverse erotic conditions which 
affected the social and historic life of France, and to eliminate any 
and everything obscene per se. If we have toned down many an 
erotic matter, it is because we wish to avoid all things unnecessary 


to students of French history and literature. We prefer to shoot 
below the mark rather than above it. 

The piece Les plaisirs du cloitre, though written for a theatre of 
high society, never was performed because no actors could be found 
for some of the parts. The roles of Agathe and Marton were easy 
and desired by young women, but Clitandres and Jesuits required 
characters of robustness and these could not be found. The author 
believed that this dramatic piece would lose little in the reading 
and boasted that he had omitted every expression that might give 
offense. Was it such an incomprehensible boast which gave the 
book a tremendous vogue? In the first act Marton, a novice, is read- 
ing an obscene book in her cell and becomes greatly inflamed. Her 
friend Agathe who has been lying in wait comes to her aid, but the 
abbess surprises them, confiscates the book, and sentences Marton 
to chastisement. 

In the second act the punishment is carried out and Marton gets 
forty strokes with the lash upon her bare body. After the flagellation, 
Agathe hurries to her friend and continues the discipline with her 
hand; then both friends give themselves over to sapphic love. Agathe 
promises Marton a still greater pleasure. In the third act, Agathe 
brings to her friend her lover Clitandre and a Jesuit father, where- 
upon a normal love scene ensues. But the Pater aroused by the sight 
of the lovers, Clitandre and Agathe, cannot resist the temptation of 
a pederastic exercise with Marton. 

Another piece, Vaste, attributed to Piron, created a sensation at 
the time, but it is of such obscenity that we shall do no more than 
mention it. Le Bourdel set up the claim to moral effectiveness. What 
is better calculated to dissuade young people from going to brothels 
than a full depiction of all the disagreeable consequences likely to 
result from such a visit? To achieve this purpose the very words 
which are popular in such places must be used; and whoever writes 

in the style of whores cannot avoid such expressions. Then follows 
a list of words from the realm of pomology. After reading this piece 
it is hoped that those desiring to visit brothels will be scared away 
lest they lose their money, health and honor as a consequence. This 
piece contains many items of interest for the social historian. If one 
is to believe the following words, the contemporary moral police 
were in a pretty bad way. The police official is represented as speak- 
ing to a prostitute: "First one needs money. Don't trust friends. 
They may make it easier for you to leave the hospital but they 
certainly don't make it harder for you to enter. What you need 
above all are friends among the police. How can you have them? 
With money, Mme. Dru." 

The piece closes in the most edifying way with an unexpected 
visit by the police patrol. The commissioner has all the exits guard- 
ed and asks everyone his business. Bel-air answers: "Sir, I am a 
soldier from Champign. I came to visit a sick jade just as you 
entered and I give you my word that I would not have come had 
I expected to find you here." 

"I understand — a pimp?" 

"Well now, commissioner, the king pays mighty little, so one 
must try to earn an extra penny." 

At the conclusion several wenches are sent to Bicetre and the 
moral purpose is achieved. 

While many of these obscene compositions may have been in- 
tended for, and accessible to, the hoi polloi, the cavaliers of the 
court however had their own pornographers.The foremost of these 
worldlings was the Duke Henin who was bom in 1 744 and came 
into an enormous fortune at the age of twenty-six. Frivolous and 
passionate, he gave free rein to his lusts and to his affection for the 
theatre. With unlimited means at his disposal he had his own theatre 
and retained his contemporary, Delisle de Sales, to furnish erotic 


pieces which were collected into four volumes and were formerly 
in the possession of the bibliophile Alfred Begis. Henin is adduced 
as a typical case and his perverse tendencies were shared by many 
others who doted on obscene theatricals. 

The foreword to these works testifies to the fact that these 
sketches were really acted out. Antiquity echoes with the dialogues 
concerning more than merely free love composed by Elephantis, 
for which professional artists drew pictures representing love in 
every attitude the coarsest fancy could imagine; and more recent 
times have contributed the dialogues of Luisa Sigea and the sonnets 
of Aretino. A nobleman and a fine fellow to boot, tired of normal 
pleasures, fitted out a private theatre to which only the roues of 
his circle were admitted and also those ladies of rank who were 
worthy of being courtesans. These were the saturnalia of the Re- 
gency. Here were enacted quite frankly the priapeia of Petronius 
and the orgies of Latouche. "On the occasion of one festival," de 
Sales says in the foreword, "I was asked how to make the last- 
mentioned daring play more interesting, and I had the weakness to 
explain that Socrates himself in this condition had surrendered 
himself to the folly of Alcibiades. Thereafter there were no secrets 
for me, and I was invited to refine the theatre so that even a sage in 
one of the lodges could give himself over to the pleasures of the play. 
Four pieces of this collection: Juno and Ganymede, the Virgin of 
Babylon, Ccesar and the Vestals, and the Judgment of Paris were 
played without change but some of the others were slightly altered 
for the performance. At least twenty times I thought of throwing in- 
to the flames the piecc,Ninette and Finette,'whose prototypes I knew 
but I have kept it here for a moral purpose to show the dangers of 
the little intimate theatre, where innocence is lost before the young 
person realizes the necessity of guarding it." 

One may well ask what this moral purpose was, since all the 


pieces are swollen with a scabrousness so disgusting that we shall 
not even synopsize the contents. Furthermore, according to de 
Sales' own confession, there was no purity to be endangered since 
only roues and ladies of quality worthy of being courtesans, were 
admitted. In the first piece Juno seduces Ganymede, in the second 
there is represented the devirgination of a Babylonian girl by the 
high priest of the Temple. In the third, Caesar first ravishes two 
vestals but later ends his performance like Onan. The last piece 
Myrza deals with a pair of lovers who go through a few amorous 
spats with orgiastic pantomime, at first in Sophie's bath, and later 
at the Opera Ball. The female role was acted by the celebrated 
Sophie Arnould, and her lover by Grammont, the famous author 
of the Memoirs. The dialogue was so shocking that the Chevalier 
was able to sing only the first six stanzas and those only under an 
assumed name. The dialogue unaccompanied by gestures left the 
erotic audience cold, but the situation was far different with 
Chevalier de Grammont and Sophie Arnould. Both finished their 
lines in the tensest heat, and less than an hour later the Chevalier 
rushed to the actress' lodgings where they repeated the perform- 
ance with no omissions, and many repetitions. 

These thespian debaucheries in the princely theatres soon began 
to exercise public opinion, and after 1779 the performances ceased. 
As long as the scandal remained behind four walls, everyone was 
permitted to seek happiness in his own fashion, but when the matter 
became a public concern the police had to interfere. 



THROUGH undermining all ethical and religious sensibility, the 
last embers of shame and decency were extinguished. It came 
to a pass where the strongest type of brothel poetry, of which there 
was a veritable mass production, aroused hardly a ripple of criticism. 
Bachaumont relates that it was customary to bring the filles 
d'Opera couplets celebrating their venereal talents and gallantries. 
These couplets were collected and issued in form of almanacs: 
Etrennes aux paillardes, etrennes gaillardes, etrennes aux fauteurs. 
Only once, in 1763, were the Tablettes de paillardes suppressed, 
but soon these salacious products were afoot again. 

It goes without saying that no gallant souper was without the 
spice of erotic verse, and frequently of the chansons that later went 
out into the world. These almanacs were usually small gilt-edged, 
coquettishly appointed volumes, provided with a tiny pencil and 
a few blank pages for memoranda. The titles of most give their 
lewd contents away, though some were much more lewd than 
others. A small Almanac h dii Troii-Madames which seemed fairly 
harmless gave rise to the most daring performances which were 
extremely popular about 1760 under the title of Trou-Trou. 

In this poetry Priapus was king. Courtier and lowest of officials, 
poet and poetaster, all felt obligated to show their reverence for 
the sign of the grotesque god of the garden. It was good form to 
represent in smooth verse the normal process of copulation as some- 


thing strange, as some special discovery of the century. When galUc 
wit was unable to transfigure this subject matter, the shamelessly 
prostituted fantasy could at least turn out quite ordinary brothel 
poetry. There was hardly a contemporary author who failed to 
place his votive offering upon the altar of the corporeal Venus, and 
almost every one that pretended to the name of poet composed 
CEuvres badines. 

A very influential collection of these gallant songs and verse tales 
is the Recueil de pieces choisiespar les soins du cosmopolite (1735). 
This was the first of these collections to be printed in the eighteenth 
century, and incidentally the only one of Jean Baptiste Grecourt's 
books to be published during his lifetime (168 3- 1743). The book- 
let was put together by Princess Conti and Pater Vinet at the castle 
of the Duke de Arguillon, and contains epigrams from many 
sources. Grecourt is the prototype of the gallant Abbe. At the 
tender age of thirteen he became a priest, but soon lost his living 
because his sermons, which described vice in the most natural 
colors, and his predilection for satire which he indulged unrestrain- 
edly, aroused more evil than induced edification. He lived in the 
friendliest relationship with the Marshal d'Estrees and the Duke 
de Arguillon whom he kept amused with his peppery jokes. The 
first edition of Grecourt's fugitive works, none of which, except 
the above-mentioned collection, would have been preserved had it 
not been for the copies made by his friend de Lassere shortly before 
the former's death, appeared in 1 747 as the CEuvres badines. 

It was a thankful and lucrative task, this compiling of erotic 
anthologies, and many famous figures occupied themselves with it 
including Count Caylus the renowned archaeologist, Parny, and 
others. Related to this type of gay effort in name, but quite different 
in essence, is Sylvain Marechal's Alma7iach des sonjietes fe?mnes 
de la Societe Joyeuse. In this wide-spread and frequently reprinted 


livret of but thirty-two pages, one hundred women are mercilessly 

Despite its eroticism it occupies so important a place in French 
literature because of its notorious influence, that it merits a brief 
examination. The "Joyous Society" — which by the way actually 
existed — is indignant because the almanacs have been appearing 
annually, had not paid sufficient and exclusive attention to the fair 
sex. This omission was now to be rectified. The saints are to be 
dethroned since no one pays any attention to them today; and in 
their stead shall be elevated the great heroines of love. January is 
henceforth the month of the Fricatrices. Not all ladies are fitted 
for this exercise. It requires a fine white hand and a long and narrow 
finger. The feast of circumcision on January first is to be the 
Festival of the Foreskin. Many nations observe the custom of re- 
moving something from the organ, but lovely womankind doesn't 
approve of that subtractive rite. February is dedicated to the 
Trictatrices. The second day of the month, Mary's purification, 
is to be known as the Festival of the Bidets. Cleanliness was law 
among the ancient Hebrews and the Romans. Why not follow 
this praiseworthy custom with the choice of bidets. March is to be 
the month of Fellatrices. Of all forms of passion, this is to be 
striven for most highly and consists of sucer le gland de son amant. 
Few women are able to bring themselves to this form of love; but 
such lovers are constant. March twenty-fifth, the Annunciation, is 
now to be the Festival of the Procurers. This change does no vi- 
olence to our worthy religion because the whole world knows that 
the holy Gabriel was the love messenger of the holy spirit. 

The almanac now mentions four mondaines who had given 
themselves to fellatio. April is reserved for Lesbians. In Lesbia girls 
were accounted virtuous when they bore no children.. May is the 
month of the Corinthians. These lovely women multiply the delight 


of the men they love. Whatever way he caresses them he will 
always find new sensations. June belongs to the Samians renowned 
for their debaucheries. July to the Phoenicians, who refined the art 
of gamahucher. August is the month of Syphiasans (one of the 
Cyclades) who had very lazy men. In order to excite them their 
women inserted their little fingers into la porte poste of their men, 
the practice known today as diligence or postilion. September is 
reserved for the Phisidisseusans whose contention it was that men 
were not the only ones who had been created to give pleasure. They 
trembled at the approach of a vigorous man and much preferred 
the delicate tongue of a lapdog. October goes to the Chalcidians 
who employ young, innocent children, November is the month 
for tribady. December is assigned to the Hircineans (from hircus) 
who go in for peeping (voyeuses). December eighth is the Feast of 
lost Virginity; and December twenty-fifth, the Feast of the Cuckold, 
after the holy Joseph. The livret closes with the significant request 
that readers contribute suggestions for the improvement and com- 
pletion of this calendar. Such were the worlds at the time! 

Most notorious, because of its disgusting shamelessness and vile 
blasphemy, is Piron's Ode to Priapus in sixteen strophes which is 
found in almost all the contemporary anthologies. Alexis Piron 
( 1 689- 1 77 3) found fame at a very early age through this ode. Later 
his occasional verse, rhymed epistles, tales and epigrams, all dis- 
tinguished by a caustic wit and amazing skill in discovering peo- 
ple's weaknesses, and last but not least by their shameless tone, 
brought him numerous admirers and friends. Piron who was "noth- 
ing, not even an Academician", failed to achieve a place in the 
French Pantheon through the disfavor of Louis xiv, and not because 
the other immortals didn't recognize his wit or objected to his Ode. 
Fontenelle, with characteristic impartiality, said: "Piron, having 
composed the Ode, we may be wroth with him; but Piron without 


the Ode — well, we would shut our doors against him." And Presi- 
dent Bouhier said to the author: "If someone throws the authorship 
of this piece up to you, you should reply calmly, 'I was the author' " 
Yet all his life his Ode to Priapus hindered his progress. Protest as he 
might against the attacks of his enemies, point as he might to his 
blameless life and irreproachable morals, it was in vain. He was a 
malicious satirist and did not spare himself either. 

The following anecdote is characteristic. One day Piron, an old 
man now blind, went for a stroll with his little niece. Men see- 
ing them laughed, and the little girl informed her uncle that the 
laughter was due to a certain irregularity in his clothes. "Uncle," 
she whispered, "everyone is gaping at us . . . won't you please cover 
your. . . your history". 

"Dear child," spoke the poet, "this history has long become fab- 

His own characterization of himself is concise and telling. "The 
fury of an ape and the simphcity of the child; a wit-drenched spirit 
and a golden heart; that is Piron". 




THERE has been no distinction drawn until now between those 
authors who luxuriated in the domain of normal love, and 
those whose minds and writings were obsessed by unnatural and 
perverse sexual activity. This would have led to difficulties and 
repetition, for hardly a single work confined itself to describing 
the natural act alone; rather did everyone of them drag in the ac- 
companying expressions of the libido sexualis for their share of 
vivid expositions. Even the Cloister porter and its echoes, cannot 
be regarded as merely pederastic tales. 

Voisenon wrote a book against bigotry and cant entitled: The 
exercises of Devotion of M. Roch with M?ne. Condor, which, his 
contemporaries added, had better be entitled The Devotion with 
Respect to the front and rump of Mme. C. He wrote this story for 
the amusement of his young girl friend, whom he laid down beside 
him to warm him as King David had done of old. He always slept 
side by side with her and permitted her to remain virgin. In witty 
and caustic fashion hypocrisy and bigotry are flayed. There is a 
dialogue (in bed) between a Tartuffe and a young woman who 
has been married to an elderly husband. These worthy descendants 
of Tartuffe are always with us and under the pretext of combating 
the call of the flesh these hypocrites indulge in the vilest debauch- 
eries. Here's an example. The good woman launches into the fol- 
lowing edifying discourse to — her pious friend. 



"When I have my attacks I am greatly to be pitied and without 
your generosity I would probably have died — and without sacra- 
ments too. God himself has brought me to you in order that you 
may help me with my devotional exercises today. He could not let me 
die before I've confessed, I thank Him and you for that. May I ask 
you for another favor, Mr. Roch? You see these attacks come upon 
me six or seven times and the last are always stronger than the first. 
Isn't there anything. . . .1 am confident that I can get rid of them 

if Oh, if it isn't too much trouble may I ask you to give me 

the remedy, for the third time. In order to drive away every 
thought of sin and prohibited pleasure I shall do the following. I 
shall now imagine that my husband is doing the work of God in 
my garden, for the sake of my recovery. And when you have 
completed my cure we will renew our devotional exercises, we 
will read a second spiritual lecture and pray a while in silence. 

While Madame was speaking, Mr. Roch had enveloped her and 
begun the work of God. As soon as it was ended Madame came to 
life again and asked: "Without appearing too curious, could you 
inform me what is the name of that which cures me". 

"It's called my heart". 

"What? That is your heart? I had never believed it. O dear sir, 
how surely your heart has been created for mine. I assure you that 
were our hearts forever united, I would never be ill. . . ." etc. 

This Abbe Claude Henri de Voisenon (i 708-1 775) had ability 
to treat the most trying themes with graceful charm, and composed 
numerous erotic works. His Erotic Fairy Tales are masterpieces of 
genial and piquant gallantry. His friend Favoit relates that his life 
was unexceptionable, and that he wrote these pieces to please his 
friends. As executrix of his will, he appointed the clever Countess 
Turpin de Crisse, chairwoman of the gallant society, Societe de la 
Table Ronde, and directed her to publish his manuscripts. This task 


the gallant lady accepted and carried out without any prudishness 
or fear of scandal. 

If it is true that the most popular erotic works gave equal atten- 
tion to all types of sexual activity, natural or perverse, it is no less 
true that certain of these writings "specialized", i.e., gave particular 
attention and emphasis to certain types of abnormal sexual practises. 
Thus the vice of tribady was extolled by two works, Uhistoire de la 
secte anandryne and the very popular Vapologue de la secte anan- 
dryne. The latter work is the story of a 15 year old girl who falls 
into the hands of the infamous panderess Mme. Gourdan and is 
conveyed to a lady of rank. Thus Mile. Sappho is inducted into 
a circle of lesbians who celebrate their mysterious rites in a temple 
constructed for the purpose, and who at the same time satisfy their 
debauched desires. The book ends with a detailed address delivered 
by the actress Raucourt in praise of Lesbian love, an address re- 
plete with the most informative material on that theme. The society 
referred to in this novel actually existed and was one of the numerous 
clubs in contemporary Paris dedicated to the realization of erotic 
fantasies and the satisfaction of strange lusts. These clubs will be dis- 
cussed presently. 

It was quite natural that an age in which love really was or was 
only regarded as the foremost thing in life, should create manuals 
for the best possible use of this joy. It was really as Abbe Galiani 
said: one loved with the head not with the heart; and love for these 
people was the libertinage de la pensee. In it one realized the glow- 
ing dreams of an imagination artificially stimulated; hence love was 
debased to an exciting game. Ovid was master, and La Mettrie 
wrote his UArt de jouir in conscious derivation. His essential thesis 
is that the highest that man can achieve is corporeal pleasure. Since 
the supposed spirituality of man is founded on the body, we can 
only strive after bodily happiness. It were infantile to forego plea- 


sures or regret past joys because of the soul which is notoriously 
untrustworthy. Passionate desire stands in the first place not be- 
cause it is the only one but because it is the most general; and 
spiritual desire must be subordinated to the corporeal. It is not reason 
which is antipathetic to happiness or lust, but prejudices. There 
is no absolute virtue; all is relative to society; the only difference 
bet\\'een good and evil is that in one case the public interest predom- 
inates, and in the other the private interest has conquered the 

The greatest success in this field of the manuals of love was 
scored by Gentil-Bemard (17 10-1775) with his Uart cf aimer. For 
twenty years the salons of Paris heard his low and seductive voice 
read fragments of his poetry, and women listened with rapture to 
his orgiastic verse. Voltaire wrote him an enthusiastic letter. Pomp- 
adour invited him to her soupers and commissioned him to compose 
pieces for her amateur theatre. When his Art of Love was pub- 
lished in 1 775 Bernard had already fallen prey to mental illness. 

The art purveyed in these and other propaedeutics of copulation 
was not to be merely book learning. Societies were formed to carry 
out the doctrines thus learnt; and if one desired consciously to cul- 
tivate "love" and ecstasy, one joined one of these clubs. The most 
famous societes (V amour were: 

i). UAcademie de ces Dames et de ces Messieurs, founded by 
Count Caylus to bring before the public the facetiae and serious 
works of the passionate muse. Among the members were Count 
Tressan, Duclos, Vade and Count Maurepas. Their secretary, under 
the pseudonym of Vade, has left us the constitution and history of the 
order. Although the literary products of this order are very frivol- 
ous and free, especially of the feminine members, they lack attic 
salt too utterly to be appropriate for our taste. Even the talented 


members somehow didn't do their best here, as for example, 
Crebillon flls. In 1776 the group died a quiet death. 

2). Another society La Paroisse, met regularly at the home of 
Mme, Doublet de Persan who lived such a retired life after the 
death of her husband that for 40 years she never ventured outdoors. 
Into her home she received the most distinguished and witty great 
ones of her day, as well as the loveliest women. Bachaumont was the 
president. From this circle there first issued the Nouvelles a la main, 
so called because they could only be read with one hand. These 
tales were put on public sale, and contained such racy and wanton 
tales in verse and prose that they were prohibited in 1852. It was 
from this group that Bachaumont gathered the materials for his 
Memoires secrets. 

3). Certain societies like the Order and Society of the Hose, the 
Bee, the Anacreontic Society of Rosate, and the Valmiise were in- 
nocuous clubs devoted to the reverence of beauty, woman, and pla- 
tonic love. The Order of Felicity, whose history was written by 
Voisenon, went in for much more realistic private pleasures. 

4). The most famous of all these clubs is undoubtedly the Les 
Aphrodites whose history, constitution and feasts, Nerciat has 
voluminously recorded in his pornographic novel of the same title. 
If he is to be believed, the club lasted for 20 years, and during that 
time had 4959 members, about 260 a year. All classes were rep- 
resented, from the grand seigneur to the simplest soldier, but the 
mode of reception was not so easy and quite costly. Every member 
paid an admission fee, of course, and gave the society a gift, in 
keeping with his circumstances. In addition he had to deposit 
10,000 livres for himself and 5,000 for his female partner, since 
women were admitted without charge. This money was kept at 
5% interest and if a member left the club, the principle was 
returned. At the time the club was dissolved, during the revolution, 


it had a fortune of 4,558,923 livres, which was removed from France. 
The purpose of the society was the cultivation of passion in every 
form — and about this Nerciat gives us very detailed information. 

5). Certain clubs were devoted to particular perversions. Thus, 
lesbian love was the raison d'etre of the club of the Anandrynes 
whereof Pidausat treats thoroughly in his English Spy. Pederasty 
was the specialty of the Guebres and the Arracheurs de palissar- 
des, whose constitutions committed them to eschew women. There 
was also a society of hermaphrodites, to which Voisenon belonged, 
and many other types. Thus the Duchess of Gesvre was the head 
of the Medusa order whose membership was confined to high-bom 
ladies. Their cult seats were decorated with statues of Priapus, 
Apollo and Sappho together, and other symbols of sexual pleasure. 
The ill-famed and horrible Society of the friends of crime, whose 
organization is treated in Sade's Juliette, had its own seraglio of 
boys and girls, and even its own zoological garden in order to do 
justice to all tastes. 

These and many other clubs, devoted to the culture of the senses, 
were clearly portrayed by a contemporary, Vicomte de Varause, 
in his Lewd Sisters. The prospectus to a translation of this work 
published a quarter of a century ago, states that this writer was born 
in the country about 1750 to an impoverished nobleman. Thanks 
to the efforts of his aunt, one of the many mistresses of King Louis 
XIV, he became a page at court. The way seemed to be clear for 
advancement, but alas! he was caught with one of the young 
favorites of the king. All his dreams of happiness, wealth and fame 
were dispelled and he was sentenced, lightly enough, to a place in 
a line regiment. This was a very fortunate blow for it saved him 
from the storms of the revolution which sent so many of his friends 
to the guillotine, or compelled them to live in ignominious exile. 
He rose to the position of lieutenant but was severely wounded in 

the battle at Valmy, and one of his legs was shattered. After a pro- 
tracted sickness he regained some measure of health, but emerged 
a cripple. He entered a Benedictine cloister at Rheims but his mem- 
ories gave him no respite. Finally he had to write them down. He 
never loses his poise and at the wildest leaps of his imagination ever 
remains the elegant, clever man of hyper-refined culture. In the 
highest moments of happiness his lovers still use the polite address. 
Unfortunately he died in 1806. This whole account sounds very 
credible, and reproduces eighteenth-century club-life amazingly, 
but it seems unfortunately untrue. All the exhaustive French biog- 
raphers and bibliographers report absolutely nothing about this 
writer, which would be strange indeed in the case of so important 
a work. Hence we are forced to the conclusion that we are dealing 
here with a hoax on the part of the publisher, or perhaps the author. 
Actually, the French original is not known before 1891 which is 
possibly the original date of publication. 





F WHAT grace the gallant age was able to write is witnessed by 
the delightful tale of Vivant Denon entitled Poin t de L end- 
emain. This tale, it is said, owes its rise to an interesting incident. 
In 1775, while the author was at the French court, it was asserted 
in his presence that no one could write an authentic love story 
without using smutty words. Denon was of a different opinion, 
and in a few days he read his story to them. It said everything and 
didn't offend good taste in any way. This anecdote need not be 
taken too seriously for the same story is related concerning Musset's 
Gamiani and Cleland's Fanny Hill. Denon's friend Dorat to whom 
he sent these poems and who published them in the year of his 
death, enjoyed some reputation as the author of a pedantic though 
frivolous work on kisses, which leaves us rather cold today. The 
same is somewhat true of Montesquieu's Temple de Gnide which, 
according to the author, was written in honor of the Princess de 
Clermont and after one of her ideas, without any further aim than 
to draw a poetic picture of passion. The direct causes of the com- 
position were a heart affair and the reading of Fenelon's Telema- 
chus. Montesquieu secured royal permission and in 1775 it was 
published anonymously in prose and purported to be a translation 
from the Greek. But the stuff is of such a nature that it can only 
be properly valued by powdered and curled heads. The Abbe 


Voisenon reported that the effusion brought its author numerous 
loves which he was wise enough to conceal. 

Grimm, the friend of Diderot and of the philosophers, criticised 
these monotonous pastorals very unfavorably and perhaps he was 
thinking of Diderot's smart B ijoux indiscrets which was of an alto- 
gether different order than the insipid poetry of shepherds. Diderot 
felt impelled to deny his authorship of the Bijoux but no one else 
could have written this master work, which no less a personage than 
Lessing had translated into Germa n. The book owes its origin to a 
chat held by the author with Mme. de Puisieux. The scabrous 
novels of Crebillon fils were being discussed when Diderot asserted 
that this stuff was easy, for once one had a pleasing foundation, 
everything else depended on the execution. The others doubted 
his opinion, so Diderot went home and set to work. In a fortnight 
the Bijoux were done and he had won 50 louis d'or. It is not im- 
possible that Diderot was strongly influenced by a panurgic work 
which had appeared as early as 1747 under the amazing title: The 
c avalier who co uld make vulvce speak. 

The contents may be briefly summarized thus. In the kingdom 
of the Congo lives the Sultan, Mongogul, in the friendliest relations 
with his favorite wife, Mirzopa. But despite his success in love, ennui 
overcomes him and he turns to the demon, Kukufa, who has often 
been of help to his house. From him he obtains a ring which possesses 
the extraordinary quality that it can make the jewel of every wo- 
man speak as soon as a stone inserted into the ring is turned upon it. 
At the same time the ring makes the bearer invisible. Mongogul 
finds great pleasure in the ring for a whole series of women sur- 
render their secrets to him. The Sultan duly reports this to his 
Mirzopa, and both use the knowledge thus won to criticize con- 
temporary morals, which are sad enough. None of the solicited 
women has ever stood the test, and all their jewels have been tar- 



nished. The Sultan promises his favorite a castle and a little baboon 
that she desires very strongly, if only he will be able to find one 
faithful woman at the court. Soon he has the opportunity of test- 
ing his theories. His beloved falls into a severe fit of cramps and 
the sultan in great curiosity hastens to turn his stone upon her 
jewel, but this remains silent. Whereupon the Sultan realizes with 
immense glee that she is the only faithful woman at the court. 

One can see from this brief synopsis that the Bijoux is not really 
a novel but a loose enchainment of realistic tales, a gallery of the 
most diverse varieties of the female nature. The chill, fiery, gallant, 
coquettish, passionate, tender, moody, and constant are drawn with 
psychological exactness. The hypocrisy, intrigue, cunning, dissimu- 
lation, wantonness, and insatiability of women are illustrated in a 
thousand piquant lives. We can read between the lines that women 
can be moved by self-seeking, pleasure and vanity, but not a word 
can be said in defense of her love and fidelity. Diderot did not for- 
get to satirize Platonic love and could not desist from touching on 
the aberrations of the sexual libido. The sapphic love of Fricamone 
to Acaris, the inclination of Haria to her dogs, the sodomy of a 
Pasha, cast their murky and repulsive shadow over the comic lights 
which generally play in these cynical anecdotes. Diderot seeks to 
satisfy bourgeois justice by having marital infidelity in the Congo 
punishable by the forcible subtraction from the sinner of the sinful 
member, which generally brings death in its wake. 

Diderot's work was impelled by the Horatian ridendo dicere 
verum, and for this purpose he employs comic and fantastic el- 
ements as well as humor. But his satire leaves the modern reader 
unmoved; for Diderot possesses neither the force of an Aris- 
tophanes nor the healthy joy of Rabelais, nor the seductive frivolity 
of Crebillon. One recognizes the thinker and the savant through 
many pedantic and doctrinaire undertones. Diderot never abandons 


a certain standard of decency, save in the confession of the travel- 
ling jewel of Cypria. Strong as the work is in imaginary power, it is 
very poor poetry. Diderot later denied this child of his muse, and 
regretted having composed it. 

In 1796 there appeared La Religieuse (the Nun) based on an 
actual event. A nun was coerced into breaking her vows. The 
Marquis de Croismare of the Encyclopaedist's circle interested him- 
self in her welfare. Later owing to family circumstances he retired 
to his country seat. His friends desiring his return, cooked up the 
story that the nun had escaped from the cloister and stood in need 
of his help. 

What has given the book its odium is its representation of tri- 
badic scenes between the nun and the mother superior. But with 
what tenderness has Diderot approached his task! Nothing lewd 
or obscene is contained in it. Diderot ever remembers that it is a 
girl, in whose name he is writing, one who has only a vague pre- 
monition of the vice that is threatening to engulf her. He only per- 
mits her to go far enough to make us realize the extent of the danger. 
One feels that his whole interest is on the side of the persecuted 
nun, whose whole sin lay in her being nothing more than a woman. 
This, however, she is prevented from being; and Diderot depicts 
with high gusto and disgust the infamy of the attempts to divert 
the natural sexual life of the girl into unnatural channels. 

The third of Diderot's stories belonging to this class is Jacques 
the Fatalist, written about 1772, a collection of tales contained and 
held together by the story of the narrator, A master and his ser- 
vant tell each other of their love adventures, which are frivolous 
but not in the sense of libertinage. Nevertheless, the book was 
declared lewd. Diderot defended himself against this charge of 
obscenity and took a fling at the practise of permitting to the 


ancients what is forbidden to the moderns. But in this apologia his 
expression became more offensive than the story had been. 


It was the Maid of Orleans which made Voltaire's name known 
to every pious churchman. The work was composed in sections 
and at first the early poems circulated only among his friends, in 
more or less complete copies. The wider public was introduced to 
the work in 1751. While Voltaire was staying at Rome the manu- 
script was stolen and came into the wrong hands, for in the same 
year there appeared the first unauthorized edition. Another un- 
authorized edition followed and Voltaire made vociferous denial 
of his authorship. However, in 1762 he authorized an edition pro- 
vided with 20 copper plates and in it he toned down the most im- 
proper passages; for instance, he now had the maid keep her 
pucelage until the capture of Orleans, and only then offer it up on 
the altar of victory. 

The poem opens with a very intimate description of the erotic 
connection between King Charles and Agnes Sorel. While both are 
living in their idyl of love, France is being devastated by England 
who has already arrived at the gates of Orleans. Now the patron 
saint of France, Saint Dionysus waxes indignant over the sloth of 
Charles and riding upon a sunbeam enters the terror-stricken muni- 
cipal council, as they are considering plans to cope with the im- 
minent dangers. He assures them that just as France had been 
brought into the present plight by a woman, so they will be saved 
by a virgin; but they are incredulous and laugh him out of coun- 
tenance. In high dudgeon he departs on his sunbeam. 

Voltaire now introduces us to Jeanne d'Arc, the fruit of an 
idyllic hour between a monk and a peasant woman. An English 


itinerant friar, Dom Grisbourdon, who was an adept at magic, and 
learnt from Sybilline books that France's destiny depended on 
Jeanne's virginity. Hence he immediately decides to obtain this 
precious prize, and his decision is shared by his rival, an ass driver. 
To this end he causes Jeanne to fall asleep, uncovers her, and pre- 
pares to snatch her prize; but while the rivals are bickering about 
priority, St. Dionysus comes ariding and they flee. The girl awakes, 
covers herself again, and is provided by the saint with historic 
weapoiis and launched upon her historic mission. To complete 
matters Dionysus bewitches a winged donkey which she is to bring 
to King Charles. They come upon the English first, and get to the 
tent of the enemy general, Hans Chandos, whose sword and trou- 
sers she steals, not before making a few drawings on the exposed 
hind parts of a handsome page. To Charles she comes and the 
Saint spurs him on so that he becomes very bellicose when he 
hears what sort of treasure Jeanne owns. The latter is examined 
by the king's physicians and her reputation sustained. Now the 
battle can begin. 

After a few sorties against philosophy and the clergy, Voltaire 
describes Agnes' grief at her lover's desertion. She sets out in the 
company of Bonneau to pursue Charles, and in the meantime stops 
off at the inn where Jeanne is tarrying. Here she steals Charles' trou- 
sers and Jeanne's armor. Bedizened in this heavy armor she is cap- 
tured by the Britons and led before Chandos, who strips her of his 
trousers and wants to ravish her naked, when Jeanne storms into 
the hostile camp. The Englishmen suffer a crushing defeat, but 
Jeanne and the hero Dunois in their martial fury become separated 
from the rest, and find themselves alone. Suddenly a little dog ap- 
pears and leads them to a fairy place inhabited by a monster who is 
man by day and woman by night. Conculix, for that is his name, 
lives only for passion and he seeks in vain to have his dual lusts 


gratified by either or both his guests. Out of revenge he attempts 
to burn his guests. When they are both standing naked upon the 
stake, Dom Grisbourdon enters through the air upon his ass and 
persuades Concuhx to spare them, promising that they would share 
the wench. Presently we find Dom Grisbourdon in Hell, again in 
the circle of devils, and the satanic monk reports his last exploit. 
Naturally this scene is just made for Voltaire — and he deals hefty 
blows to the church. Dom Grisbourdon meets Constantine, the 
holy Dominicus, and others. The monk tells how he and the ass 
driver had been on the point of forcing Jeanne, when Jeanne's ass 
had come through the air and taken her away to Dunois. Where- 
upon he had disguised himself as a seductive girl by whom Dunois 
was thoroughly ravished. The ass driver now turned his attention 
to this stunning girl, whereupon Jeanne in ire and jealousy had 
run him through with her sword. 

Agnes, who regards herself as having been very shabbily treated 
by Chandos who had rejected her, turns her back upon the camp of 
the English still wearing the clothes of their leader. But the page 
of the latter observes her flight and pursues her. Agnes has a fall 
and he treats her wounds and later escorts her to an hostelry 
where he leaves her alone. But a friar knows how to take advantage 
of opportunities and shares Agnes' bed and body. In the meantime 
Dunois rescues a young witch from the stake. She informs him 
of her love story and her rescuer fights for her and wins. King 
Charles now learns with grief of the disappearance of his Agnes 
who all this while was being made happy by the friar. Thereafter 
the page became recipient of her favors, but both are apprehended 
by the English in the midst of their copulatory activity. Agnes suc- 
ceeds in escaping to a convent where she desires to expiate her sins, 
but alas for her good intentions, the acting mother superior is a 
disguised youth. Now the English break into the nunnery and hold 


foul orgies with the nuns. St. Dionysus sees all and hastens to the 
scene with Jeanne to dam the torrent of passion. But St. George 
also arrives and both holy ones fall to with their swords until they 
are forcibly reconciled by Gabriel. Charles with Bonneau and his 
confessor arrive at the castle of Cutendres where the young page, 
who has just slain the lecherous monk that had done violence to 
Agnes, was now enjoying her again after a long absence. Full of 
desire the king hurries to Agnes and the page scurries into hiding 
but throws over a night table and is discovered by the king. How- 
ever, Agnes is able to hoodwink the nit- wit monarch. 

In the meantime luck favors the English. Jeanne fights with 
Chandos and loses, whereupon the sensual Briton seeks to rob her 
virginity but Dionysus succeeds in preventing this. In the church 
Dorothea is oppressed by the all too free attentions of Chandos. 
Her lover Trimouille arrives on the scene and measures swords 
with the latter but is worsted. However, Dunois takes up her cause 
and slays the Briton. Charles is victorious at Orleans but loses his 
Agnes when the earth opens and swallows all the pretty girls plus 
the page Montros, to deposit them in the magic palace of Conculix. 
Jeanne's ass makes an avowal of love to its mistress but is driven 
off by Dunois. In the meantime, our heroes are with Conculix who 
will release them from that captivity when one of the captives 
will give himself in love. Since all shrink back, Paul Tirconel de- 
cides to sacrifice himself for the others. The ass comes to the castle, 
takes Agnes off to her Charles, and rushes to Jeanne who finally 
surrenders to him. 

From every line there is wafted to us the love with which Vol-, 
taire wrote the Pucelle d^Orleans, and his delight in the erotic situa- 
tions which are interspersed through the epic. Voltaire wouldn't 
really have been himself had he not utilized every opportunity 
to hurl his darts of satire against the court, Louis, his mistresses 


and the clergy. If we who read it today are apt to set it down 
with meagre delight or perhaps even with some disgust, it is be- 
cause the book no longer contains truth for us. Our world view 
is no longer a frivolous one; but we must remember how and why 
it could be so then. It came about as the practical reaction against 
Christian spiritualism. In Christianity, the sensual in man is funda- 
mentally denied in theory, and only tolerated in practice. Contin- 
ence and virginity are the higher, the true ideals, which should be 
fulfilled and established in the lives of men and women if only they 
could be compassed; and occasionally in some few individuals these 
virtues are realized, which sets them off as the very paragons of our 
species. On the other hand, the enlightenment in the sensualist form 
which it assumed in France asserted, and to that extent at least 
justly, that man was not essentially spirit. But now it went further, 
and became just as one-sided as the church, by proclaiming further 
that he is only flesh and nothing more than sensuality. Hence, the 
poet endeavors to discover a series of pictures in which the flesh 
always brings the spirit to ruin, in which ostensible purity is always 
revealed in the end as hypocrisy, and the most unsuspected saints, 
as the most dissolute of men. It may be said that in Voltaire's 
Maid of Orleans, the eighteenth century took delight in its frivolity, 
which in itself is certainly not praiseworthy, but which cannot be 
separated from its other characteristics. 


The frivolous literature of France reached its high point in Claude 
Prosper Jolyot de Crebillon (1707-1777), and who as the most 
radical representative of this class of writers, worked his field with 
resolution and perspicacity. His works thoroughly convey the tone 
and spirit of his society and evince an unexampled candor. Cre- 


billon's novels are always sparkling and frivolous to the point of 
folly, and yet always (with some few exceptions) stopping before 
the ultimate revelation, always halting before the naked representa- 
tion of the final climax. His desire to mirror life as it really is, is 
aided by his utter lack of piety, and his mercilessly clear powers of 
observation. Crebillon had no more illusions. Wherever he looked 
he saw lechery and rottenness, and these conditions are truthfully 
mirrored in his works. If despite this we accuse him of lewdness, 
we are forgetting that an author who wishes to be read must ever 
be the slave of his reading public. Crebillon wished to be read and his 
public deified frivolity. This subservience to the taste of his time 
explains, in part, the immorality of his novels which found their 
admirers even in England. British men of the world frequently 
came to Paris to become better acquainted with the refined art of 
loving, to provide themselves with clothes, and to purchase a dozen 
of Crebillon's novels to present to their friends upon their return. 

His best known work is undoubtedly The Sofa. When this novel 
appeared it aroused great discussion. The very title reveals the 
essential tendency of the work. In 1741 he received a command to 
exile himself from Paris because the king and his courtiers believed 
themselves to be portrayed in this tale. Crebillon fled to England 
and confessed that he had written Le Sopha at the wish of Fred- 
rick II, that it had not been intended for publication but that the 
manuscript had been stolen from him. After some time, he received 
permission to return to France. 

As in Sade, so also in Crebillon, the wars of love are fought not 
upon the bed, but upon the sofa. The story takes the form of an oriental 
tale, in which Almanzai, a nobleman in the court of a certain Shah, 
Baham, becomes transmogrified into a sofa for punishment. The 
conditions of the enchantment and the subsequent release are that he 
may choose any form, any material, any color, which he wishes, 


and serve whom he will; only that he must remain a sofa until there 
will be enacted upon him or in his immediate vicinity a scene which 
is of extreme rarity: namely, innocence meeting innocence, and 
both being mutually conquered. We may wish to remember that 
Crebillon drew the framework of his story from another novel of 
his time, The Metempsychosis of the Mandarin Finn Horn, in which 
the latter experiences the most intimate details in his various incar- 
nations. When Crebillon cast about for some object which would 
be compelled to observe the most suggestive and lascivious scenes, 
his first thought was the sofa, but it goes without saying that Cre- 
billon was altogether original in the erotic situations. The success that 
greeted this book was so immense that many imitations were found. 
Even England produced echoes of this novel, but instead of the 
sofa to observe and report the amorous tidbits such diverse objects 
were introduced as lap dogs, drawers, bank notes, and formal coats. 
An example of a typically French caiiserie with fine pointed 
psychological graces is offered us by Crebillon in his unusual Sex- 
travaganza. It is a faithful mirror of the naughty life at the court of 
Louis XV, where women give themselves as naturally as the men 
who take them. In Sextravaganza there are but two characters, 
Countess Cidalise and Count Clitandre. The scene is a country 
palace at night, more exactly, the room of the countess, who has 
retired but forgotton to bolt the door. Clitandre, walking about in 
his nightshirt, sees an open door and walks in. Is he expected? We 
are not informed, for Crebillon is master of the half-tone, who 
leaves much more to our surmise than he tells us definitely. Conver- 
sation becomes more and more lively and more intimate. The Count- 
ess wishes to hear more of his love adventures. He is rather reluctant 
to continue his tale, because he is quite frozen, but by and by, he 
obtains the Countess' permission to finish the tale in her bed. Now 
he relates his meeting with Julie on one hot summer's day, during 


which the influence of heat on virility was discussed and in which, 
finally he gave her proof that in his case at least, no diminution was 
to be marked. After this the two bed-mates huddle closer to each 
other, and each makes sexual confessions to the other, and declare 
themselves attracted one to the other. Clitandre now lays siege to 
her, according to all the rules of the art, until the citadel capitulates. 
This performance is followed by the vivid narration of other amor- 
ous relations, and when morning grays, Clitandre has exhausted his 
report and his power. 

Next in importance is Crebillon's Chinese story, The Parasite, 
which pretends to be a translation from the land of lotus blossoms. 
The story is prolix and involved and the conclusion is rather dull. 
In all it is a rather painful task for the modern reader. The thread 
of the story is constantly torn by unnecessary details — and there 
are frequent intrusions of philosophic and gallant details. The sale 
of the book was strictly prohibited and as a result it enjoyed a 
large underground distribution and even court ladies are reported 
as having been "crazy" for it. The reason for the prohibition was 
that in this book there could be discerned a satire against Cardinal 
Rohan, with the result that Crebillon had to spend some time in 
the Bastille. 

If Crebillon here has retained some traces of decency he dropped 
all the veils in the work now to be mentioned, the famed Dialogue 
T ableaux of Morals in Diffe rent Ages. Both this volume and Sex- 
travagafiza have recently been published in this country. In seven- 
teen chapters a veritable master paints the gallant life of the old 
empire. Seventeen pictures out of life, caught by the inexorable 
eye and limned with a delicate impressionistic pencil, joined to- 
gether to form a total portrait of the most ostentatious era of French 
history — glowing with ardent sensuality. In the midst of this kal- 
eidoscope of passions stands Mile. Tlierese, a society girl of enchant- 



ing beauty and grace. We make her acquaintance when she is just a 
young girl being educated in the cloister and already here, within 
the holy walls, her hot blood simmers. Her senses cry out for ful- 
fillment and a stormy need for love draws her to her friends and 
associates. How these young girls at the cloister engage in numer- 
ous, deeply erotic practices, how the awakening of spring finds 
expression in the most daring of games and adventures, constitute 
one of the most effective and exquisite parts. Later we see the girl 
in full bloom as bride and young matron. Very soon, however, the 
marriage partners go their own way. 

This remarkable book has a very interesting history. Crebillon 
wrote it at the request of the enormously wealthy farmer-general 
of taxes, Popeliniere, who was famous for his grand style, his luxury, 
his lavishness and his wenching. In addition he had an itch to write 
poetry, which hasn't survived. But two of his novels have come down 
to us, and the Histoire de Zairette has been preserved because its 
author affixed it to Crebillon's Tableaux of Morals, to rescue it 
from oblivion. Zairette, born in Paris, is after many venereal ad- 
ventures brought to the kingdom of Karaktay where she must 
serve the sensual desires of the ruler Moufhack, which love scenes 
are represented with sextravagant imaginativeness. According to 
Marquis de Paulmy's account, this book of Crebillon was printed 
with the utmost care in just one copy, in the house and under the 
eye of Popeleniere. After printing, the plates were destroyed. The 
work contained twenty large but handsome miniatures which 
showed Popeleniere in various positions. After the latter's death 
this volume was found in a sealed packet so that at first Popeleniere 
was suspected of being the author of both books, both Zairette 
and the Tableaux. As soon as it was unwrapped and examined, the 
great monetary value of the book became obvious because of its 
rarity and the beauty of its pictures. Mile, de Vandi, one of the heir- 


esses to the Popeleniere estate cried out aloud when she saw this 
find and insisted that the work of the devil be burnt immediately. 
But the officer in charge explained that this procedure would have 
to be sanctioned by all the heirs; whereupon he sealed the package 
again and informed the chief of police who in turn communicated 
with the minister, Saint-Florentin. The minister ordered that the 
book be obtained for His Majesty, and so it was. Later the book 
changed hands many times, and in 1 89 1 it was sold to a bibliophile 
for over 20,000 francs. There have been numerous reprints and 
Rops once contributed a frontispiece to one of these. The French 
government has always confiscated these reprints so that copies 
are exceedingly rare. 

Crebillon wrote numerous other works and all were widely read 
in his day. His writings fitted the taste of the times perfectly — to 
portray the most amatory situations with the most moral words. 
Sensual pleasure has but little charm without spirited talk. The 
witty preludes are the ornaments and the excuse for these im- 
moral carryings on. The fairy tale form and the Oriental frame- 
work were also part of the contemporary mode which Crebillon 

Peculiar to Crebillon is the extraordinary combination or mor- 
alizing tone with scabrous reporting of love relationships. No 
one can fail to appreciate his desire to give a faithful mirror of 
his time. At moments the satirist in him makes his appearance 
when he takes aim at theological and political abuses — but he does 
it guardedly and makes these reconnoitres appear quite accidental. 
His influence on the literature of his time was tremendous and 
can easily be demonstrated. 




Since love was everything in this century, the gallant ladies and 
gentlemen of the day became systematic and reduced seduction 
to a system. The mere surrender of a woman was no great achieve- 
ment. One had tasted so much, and so frequently, that one could 
find pleasure only when one gained one's goal by craft or force. 
"First enjoy, then destroy" went the slogan. With unsurpassable 
mastery Choderlos de Laclos (1741-1803), in his Liaisojis Danger- 
euses, reproduced with the fidelity of a photographer, all the de- 
tails of courtly depravity which degraded love to sly deceit. A 
young and innocent girl is seduced by two genial criminals and 
made into the meanest whore. A young and religious matron is 
systematically driven to infidelity by this pair and finally to death. 
And the motive of it all is not love, not even sensuality, but the 
exquisite lust for psychological experimentation which will stop 
at no crime. Seduction is not the motive but corruption. But the 
satirist was hardly so much in earnest about his theme that he 
forgot his Gallic smile and frivolity. He was impelled by literary 
ambition, and to achieve a widely-read book he would have to 
employ the loudest colors possible in the depiction of vice. De 
Laclos cannot be accused of depicting crime with great expansive- 
ness and providing the "heroes" of corruption with such brilliant 
accoutrement. If his work was to be complete and effective it 
would have to be done in the finest and most circumstantial manner. 
De Laclos's contemporary, Count Tilly, makes a very interesting 
comment. The author expended much art upon Mme. de Mertuil. 
He purposely represented her as being so corrupt that he might 
the better contrast the angelic purity of Mme. de Tourvel. And 
he is even justified in making the former lady outdo in evil Valmont 

himself, for he is a student of men and knows that generally women 
are better than men and worthier than us; but once they have left 
the path of virtue and womanliness, they proceed downhill into the 
mire at an alarmingly fast clip. For the rest he has drawn pictures 
more reprehensible than Aretino; but most of them are elegant, 
some true, others exaggerated, and their colors laid on with a trowel. 
By those who knew the great men only from hearsay this work 
was accepted as a splendid representation of the general morality 
of the higher classes; and in this sense it can be regarded, as one of 
the thousand billows of the revolutionary ocean which swallowed 
up the court, one of the thousand lightning flashes in the storm 
that razed the throne. In a word, his work is the product of a head 
of the first rank, a heart given over to rottenness and the genius of 
evil. So well was he able to get the proper note that people actually 
asked whether the correspondence was genuine or fanciful; and 
Laclos, in a naive and philistine introduction, sought to maintain 
the belief in the genuineness of the letters. 

De Laclos told his friend Tilly that the work originated while he 
was stationed in a garrison on the island of Re where he was perish- 
ing of boredom. He had already tried composing some elegies and 
had also gotten into scrapes. But now he yearned to achieve some- 
thing that would bring him lasting fame, even after his death. 
One of his friends, a literar)^ man who had also made his mark in 
the sciences, had had a host of adventures in his life which lacked 
only a frame and a stage since they had plenty of glory and 
eclat. This friend was really born for woman, and was thorough- 
ly versed in the falsehoods and infidelities in which the female 
species has accomplished so much. Indeed, had he been born at 
court he would have been a lovelace and would even have sur- 
passed the latter in form. This friend chose Laclos for his confidant 
who laughed at his pranks and occasionally helped out with advice. 


TTie latter knew one of his mistresses who stood near to Mme. de 
Alertuil, and in Grenoble he found the lady who was the prototype 
of the Alertuil woman in the story. It was a certain Marquise con- 
cerning whom the whole city knew and told things related only 
of the most notorious empresses of ancient Rome. He wrote down 
the most noteworthy of these reports with an eye to using them 
later, and added to these erotic episodes that had become bywords, 
and certain passages from his own life. Then he melted it all into 
one precious metal, invited the rest and created particularly the 
character of Mme. de Tourvel who meant very much to him and 
whom he regarded as being too virtuous for this earth. After ex- 
pending a number of months of diligent labor to perfect the style 
he sent it into the world and achieved his purpose. Fame was his 
in large measure. During his own life the book was reprinted fifty 
times. Stendhal (Beyle) sought to make his acquaintance and was 
so impressed by the Laclos reputation that he acted like a diffident 
schoolboy in the presence of the famous author. 


In strict contrast to the Dangerous Connections of Choderlos stands 
another, hardly less famous work, The Adventures of Chevalier 
Faublas by Jean Baptiste Louvet de Couvray. In 1772 he was taken 
into the convent where he joined the party of the Girondists 
and was not afraid to rise against Robespierre. In 1793 he had to 
flee but after the death of the latter he returned and was re- 
admitted into the convent, joined the Council of 500 and died in 
1797. But his work will live for all time as the creation of a great 
poet. This work permits us to see yet once more in roseate hues 
all that the old society had fitted out with so much pomp and 
circumstance. If the Dangerous Liaisons had exposed its contempo- 


raries with cynical candor, the other book waxed enthusiastic about 
the handsome he — its lovely grace, its exquisite frivolity, which 
the society flattered itself it lived under. 

In contrast to Casanova's experienced reports, Faublas's is an 
imaginary account, and may be accounted as the moral balance 
of the time. The whole is a web of lubricity and passionate bou- 
doir scenes where people love, converse wittily, debate about love; 
where night and day there is nothing else but carnal pleasure; 
where folk smilingly deceive and are deceived; where despite 
all this nothingness, no tedium is experienced. Everything remains 
superficial and neither lust nor grief goes very deep; and above 
all, these idlers fear a genuine passion which is not compatible 
with their trivialism. Faublas sums up all these hundreds of in- 
dividual details in his wonderful pictures of the times. The contents 
of this book are too well known to need repetition here. Besides, 
a compressed narrative account will give no notion of the attractive 
and vividly warm paintings, for it is just this mass of little mis- 
chievous and lascivious details which afford it its true splendor. 
Louvet comprehended the ideal of rakishness with almost remarkable 
talents. His inventiveness is happy, his devices which set it in 
motion are nimble, swift and effective. One marvels at the heap of 
aids and combinations the author has at his disposal. The situations 
he invents are comical and original and his dramatic talent teaches 
him how to handle characters properly. The action is full of fire. 
The movement of scenes abounds in vital warmth which never 
harms the probability or impedes the unfolding. Twenty characters 
and a half dozen intrigues are going at one time and nothing gets 
in the way of anything else. On the contrary they illuminate each 
other with pure and tender love and patriotic enthusiasm resting 
the mind, for everything fatigues, even vice. His style is elegant 
and light; and if panurgic in places, thoroughly pleasant. It has 


more of grace than wit, more wit than passion, more passion than 
observation and more of frivolity than anything else. To sum up, 
the queer amalgam of inconstant tenderness, sensual intoxication 
and merry comedy produces a remarkable but dangerous book. 
Extremely praiseworthy is the naturalness with which emotion 
is represented and motivated. Here is no affected sentimentality, 
ostentatious with artifiicial sensations, but pure truth, even when 
it goes hand in hand with the greatest frivolity. As an illustration 
of the spirit of the work and its language, a scene will be quoted in 
which the Marquise apparently makes the discovery that the young 
Faublas who is lying beside her, dressed as a girl, is really of mas- 
culine gender. 

Deep silence reigned for a few breaths, then the Marquise asked 
me in a wonderfully changed voice. 

"Are you asleep already, pretty child.^" 

"No, I am still awake." 

She opened her arms rapidly and pressed me to her bosom. 

"Heavens!" she then cried out with a surprise that was ex- 
cellently simulated, "A man." And pushing me from her quick- 
ly she added, "How, sir, is this possible?" 

"Madame, I told you expressly. . ." I answered trembling. 

"Quite right, sir, but it was incredible. You shouldn't have 
remained here or you should at least not have prevented them 
from preparing another bed for you." 

"But it wasn't I who did it, madame, but the Marquis him- 

"Please speak quietly, sir. I repeat you must not remain here. 
You must go." 

"Good, madame, I go." 

But she seized me by my sleeve and cried, "Go? where to 
— and what for? To wake my maids so that we will surely be 
apprehended? So that all will be able to say that a man has been 
in my bed?" 

"Gracious madame, do not be angry. I shall spend the night 


in an armchair. This will be the best way out of an awkward 


But she still held on to my arm and went on, "Now that's an 
idea for you. Tired as he is, a night in this cold room ivould cer- 
tainly give him a cold — // not some more serious illness. As a 
matter of fact you deserve some such fate, but I will permit you 
to remain here if you promise to be good." 

"Then you forgive me?" 

"No, I don't forgive you. I am merely looking out for myself, 
much more than for you. But dear — what a cold hand he has." 

Full of pity she put it upon her ivory neck, but guided by 
natural impulse and love, the fortunate hand soon slid down; 
an incomprehensible excitation set my blood aboiling. 

"Has ever woman been in such a pickle as the one he has put 
me into?" the Marquise complained petulantly. 

"Forgive me, forgive me, dearest mama." 

"You are really considerate of your mama, you little wretch." 
Then her arms drew me to her again, oh so gently. And soon 
we were so close that our lips met and I had the temerity to 
press a hot kiss upon hers. 

"Faublas, is this what you promised me?" she said almost 
voicelessly. Her hand suddenly strayed, and a consuming fire 
raced through my veins. 

"Gracious lady, forgive me, I die!" 

"My dear Faublas, my friend! " 

I became motionless. The Marquise had pity with my help- 
lessness which she rather enjoyed and helped along my timid 
awkwardness. I underwent with as much wonder as pleasure a 
lesson which I repeated more than once. 



IN 1 749 Honore Gabriel Riquette, Comte de Mirabeau was bom 
at the castle of Bignon. He died in 1791. His biography is known 
to all. Because he had seduced Sophie Ruffey, the Marquise of 
Monnier, both were persecuted by the furious husband. Mirabeau 
was sentenced to the jail at Vincennes, and Sophie was immured 
in a cloister. But the motives which impelled the aging Count Ruf- 
fey to these acts of punishment did not spring from any exalted 
motives. Repeatedly, Mirabeau accuses Monnier unequivocally of 
the ignominious design to get a child from his wife at any price, 
which he himself could not hope for from his own efforts. He 
wanted a child so badly because he wished to avenge himself against 
his married daughter and her husband. He would be able to disin- 
herit them only if he could have a child by his second marriage 
which in the eyes of the world could be considered as his own. 
When these calculations were destroyed by Mirabeau and Sophie 
he became extremely embittered and engineered the persecutions 
of the lovers. 

While Mirabeau was in prison the Marquis de Sade was brought 
there, and there were many subsequent encounters between these 
two writers. In the 1780's the latter came to pay his respects to 
Mirabeau, who later wrote the following account of this visit to 
Police Chief Boucher, whom Mirabeau called his guardian angel: 



"Yesterday M. de Sade fired his cell. He did me the honor of 
introducing himself to me and without the slightest provoca- 
tion on my part he made me the butt of his infamous attack. He 
accused me of being the favorite of the inspector of prisons — 
M. de Rougememont — who accorded me the privilege of a 
daily stroll which was denied him. Finally he asked for my 
name so that he might have the pleasure of cutting my ears off 
after he would again be at liberty. Then I lost patience and re- 
plied: 'My name is that of a gentleman who has never cut wo- 
men up, and poisoned them, and who will spell the name out on 
your back if you won't shut up, for which business I shan't 
have much regret.' Whereupon he kept still and he hasn't dared 
to open his mouth since. If you are inclined to bear me some ill- 
will about it I might answer that it is easy enough to exercise 
patience at a distance, but mighty sad to live under one roof 
with such a monster," 

The incarceration of the lovers, Mirabeau and Sophie, did not 
have the effect of extinguishing their love. They languished each 
for the other and their letters bear witness to their passionate tem- 
perament. Sophie is delighted to read the description of Mirabeau 's 
love affairs with the highest ladies of the court. 

His letters are momentary inspirations of the most personal art, 
not really meant for the external world. When rumors came to him 
that some one was planning to publish them he was shocked and 
vowed that if he could survive the blow he would live only for 
revenge. Unfortunately, he had no way of hindering the realizations 
of these rumors, for all the letters had gotten into the Paris police 
archives. During the revolution the whole department came under 
the control of the municipal council whose syndic in 1 792 was the 
convent deputy Manuel. The latter used his position to obtain the 
letters for himself and to publish them despite the opposition of the 

Mirabeau also corresponded in a very free manner indeed with 


another lady whom he did not know at all. The suppressed desires 
of the lovers found partial expression in this erotic correspondence 
which is an important source for the life of Mirabeau. Thus we 
learn that A4irabeau is the author of the notorious My Conversion, 
frequently known as The Li bertine of Qu ality. Some have suggested 
that it was the father of Mirabeau who wrote the book but attributed 
it to the son that the latter's name might be discredited, but several 
of these letters to Julie contain explicit and indubitable testimony 
that Mirabeau himself wrote the book. Thus he writes to her: 

"I am not enclosing a quite insane book that I have written 
and called My Conversiofi. The following extract may give you 
an idea of the contents, and show you at the same time how 
faithful to you I still am. (There now follows a quotation from 
the above book.) 'Until now, my friend, I was a ne'er-do-well. 
I pursued skirts and was only a rotter and a — . But now youth 
returns to my heart. Hereafter I shall love only for gold. I will 
advertise myself as a sworn stallion for women whose summer 
is almost gone, and so will teach them to hop with their poste- 
riors every month.' 

"You can't believe how many figures and amusing contrasts 
fit into this frame. All types of women, and all ages pass before 
the eye. The idea is quite mad but the details are rollicking and 
some day I'm going to read it all to you, although I fear that 
you'll be scratching my eyes out. I've already finished the wo- 
man of means, the prude, the nun, the president, the business 
woman, the court lady, the old one, and now I'm doing the 
young woman. This is one grand work and a correct manual of 

In a later letter he writes Sophie that he is preparing engravings 
for the book which if he were its bookseller and not its author, 
would be making his fortune. He promises to leave enough time 
for hours of dalliance with her, even if he is giving most of his 
present time to the completion of this book. If she will promise to 


be tolerant to free words and loose portraiture, which is, however, 
nothing but the reflection of current immorality, he will send her 
the book which is less frivolous than would appear at first glance. 
He has already thoroughly analyzed the court ladies and finished 
anatomizing the nuns and the opera girls. Now he is treating the 
monks but is planning to make a short excursion to the underworld 
where he will fornicate with Prosperina and dig up some droll news. 
In short, he regards his book as an extraordinary piece of madness 
which no one can read without laughter. A month later he sent her 
the first part of the book. The second he was afraid to entrust to the 
mails. A melancholy note is sounded in the brief note accompanying 
the book as he speaks of the dismalness of the prison environment 
where one must beat one's thigh to induce laughter: "For if one 
doesn't laugh one loses all courage, or reason, or even life." 

The novel is entirely concerned with a man who sells his potency. 
In order to pay for his luxurious indulgences a cavalier belonging 
to French court circles distributes his favors for suitable remunera- 
tion to a whole series of women, more or less old and more or less 
ugly, but always rich. Mirabeau published the book because he just 
had to pay off some debts. Hence we cannot assume that we are 
dealing with an absolutely faithful reflection of the social life of 
the times. The lascivious life of that epoch appears caricatured; but 
the book has an abiding human value. 

Later Mirabeau wrote his little pussy, Sophie, that he had com- 
posed a new and very original work entitled Erotica Biblion t reating 
the most roguish themes in a grotesque but none the less serious 
fashion. He asks her whether she can believe that in the Bible and 
classical times investigations were instituted concerning onanism, 
tribadism, and on all indelicate matter treated by the casuists. These 
matters were treated in the Bible in such a way that they were 
readable by even the most squeamish, and incidentally they were 


interlarded with philosophical ideas. Here Mirabeau treats all 
manner of passion and perversity in a fairly unexceptionable style 
and shows that among the ancient peoples, particularly the Jews, 
there existed the same degree of sexual excitability as in his time. 
The work is cleverly erotic but by no means pornographic. In 
many respects it is one of the strangest books ever written. Here 
are some of his chapter headings — with their paraphrased meanings: 

IscHA, or the creation of man and his superiority to zvoman. 
Tropoide, or about incest. 
Thalabe, or concerning masturbation. 
Anandrine, or concerning tribadism. 
Akripoidie, or concerjiing circumcision. 
Kadesch, or concerning unnatural unchastity. 
Behemao, or concerning unchastity with animals. 
Leguanmanie, or views about orgasm and divers notes anent 


The whole edition of this work was confiscated immediately so 
that only fourteen copies of it are extant today. It was naturally 
placed on the Index, too, under the title of Amatoria Bibliorum. 
Subsequent editions met the same fate but the book has reproduced 

If Mirabeau's authorship of these books is fairly certain, this is 
not the case with Hie a Hec, dealing with the adventures of a 
young pupil of the Avignon Jesuits who becomes a tutor in a 
wealthy home after the dissolution of the order. The characters 
are recruited from the clergy and nobility; and the action leaves 
nothing to be desired in the way of caprice and lasciviousness. 

Another work of uncertain authorship that has been attributed 
to Mirabeau without justification is The Raised Curta in, probably 
a work of the Marquis de Sentilly. It purports to be an apology for 
incest but the task is not carried out, perhaps because of a sudden 

access of scruple; and the story as we have it today has been worked 
over by another pen. Little Laura whose education is completely 
in the hands of her father, gets a new governess who spends an 
unaccountably long time in her father's room. To allay her curiosity 
Laura ties a thread to the curtain in this room and leads it through 
the keyhole into her own room next door. One day she pulls this 
thread gently and as the curtain rises, discovers her father in a tight 
situation with her governess. But her deed has been noticed and she 
must be witness to the performance. Later she receives the informa- 
tion that no natural bond ties her to her father. Since she is too 
young for the tussle of love and since her father is aware of her 
fiery temperament, he has her fitted with a chastity belt which she 
must wear until she becomes ripe. When little Laura reaches pu- 
berty, it is removed and there follow orgies with the father, youths, 
etc., which are broadly depicted with philosophic discussions and 

A number of other works are attributed to Mirabeau, some justly 
but others wrongly. His works found wide recognition even outside 
of France, and were greedily read by women, too. Pauline Wiesel, 
the lover of Prince Louis Ferdinand, was greatly enthusiastic about 
them as we know from a letter of von Benz which characterizes 
Mirabeau's writing as cold libertinism and urges her friend to read 
cognate productions of Voltaire, Crebillon and Grecourt if she 
would know the best that has been achieved in this field. 


Andre Robert Andrea de Nerciat was born in 1739, led a fairly 
adventurous life and died in 1800. He began to travel very early in 
order to perfect himself in languages, then entered the service of 
the king of Denmark and finally returned to France where he rose 


to chief lieutenant. After being pensioned he journeyed through 
Belgium and became assistant librarian to the Landgrave of Hessen- 
Cassel, but after the newspapers accused him of disorganizing the 
public library he resigned, and became director of construction to 
the Duke of Hessen-Rothenburg, and finally returned to France. 
During the revolution he emigrated and served the Duke of Braun- 
schweig. In 1798 he was sent to the pope on a special mission by 
the queen of Naples but was captured by French troops and jailed. 
Shortly after his release, he died. 

As a writer Nerciat is distinguished by his spirit and style. His 
dialogues are brilliant and evince strong dramatic skill. Even in 
erotic scenes he knows how to introduce relief. He never offends 
with coarse speech but even in the freest scenes he knows how to 
divert attention from carnal reality by the aid of proper sentiment. 
But despite all these virtues, his writings leave the reader untouched 
for they lack the chief desideratum — emotion. He belongs to that 
type of rococo individual to whom Choderlos de Laclos erected 
such a lasting monument in his immortal story. 

Nerciat's chief work is Felicia. The person of Felicia is no creation 
of the author's fancy but a real individual, a friend of his, and we 
meet her again in Montrose and Aphrodite. The heroine opens her 
eyes upon the world on a pirate ship. She is adopted by an Italian 
who gives her an excellent education. Her libido is aroused when 
she is still very young and at fourteen a little dancing instructor 
turns her head. At nineteen she falls in love with the Chevalier 
d'Aiglemont. Then a prelate is added to the series. Her lust for 
adventure draws her to Paris. On the way she is attacked by robbers 
but freed by a young, knightly hero, Montrose. Her love adventures 
with him fill the first half of the second volume. Despite their great 
love for each other neither hesitates to stray off into other pastures. 
Felicia falls in with a rich Briton who is a slave to a peculiar whim. 

He invites young couples and pretty girls to his castle and eaves- 
drops upon them quite invisibly, for the castle has double walls. 
There are numerous episodes and many characters appear. All the 
love scenes give way to a mass wedding. Sidney marries Zeila whom 
he had once lost. Aiglemont takes a little flapper home with him 
and only Montrose escapes the matrimonial chains. He finds his 
family, joins the army and is promoted to the rank of captain. 

A subsequent novel, Montrose, carries on this story, although 
there isn't really an integral plot. Many new characters are intro- 
duced and all have but one function besides the inevitable sexual 
debauchery; they are all actuated by the caprice of play-acting. 
Nerciat boasts that his characters are not the usual simple creations, 
utterly clear, calculable and of one cloth, but are rare mixtures of 
virtues and infirmities. They make swift and constant transitions 
from sorrow to joy, from lust to regret, from wrath to tenderness. 
They are half chastity and half corruption, of the sort that it is a 
unique achievement to escape in the metropolis, especially if one 
has the inclination and the means of gratifying it. In this tale Felicia 
has already been advanced to the presidency of the profligate love 
society. An added point of interest in this book is that the her- 
maphrodite, Nicelte, probably served as the model for Zambinella, 
in Balzac's short story Sarrazine. 

In My Novitiate, the author describes the experiences of a daugh- 
ter of joy in his own peculiar compound of clever sophistry and 
licentiousness. Better known is the book with the amazing title 
The Devil in Him. This story, like all of Nerciat's work, is strongly 
interwoven with dialogues and contains some pretty broad ex- 
pressions. A pair of dissolute women who engage in monstrous 
practices: the Marquise and her friend. Countess Motte-en-feu; 
a German prelate whose life work consists in purveying most un- 
equivocal knightly services to pretty women; the lovely Mme. 


Couplet, the most refined brothel mistress in all Paris. The worthy- 
abbot and his monks all of whom must bring sacrifices to the love 
altar of the little Countess; Nicola, the earnest and jealous; and 
Phillipine, the soft and amorous servant of the Marquise — both of 
whom emulate the example of their mistress; the always faithful 
Hector, alias Bel-amour; and the boy Felix who has long since 
ceased being a boy. There is also the amusing phenomenon of the 
Capuchin who fears nothing and is able to cure the Marquise 
afflicted with a fever; the negro Zamer; and finally, the ass. This 
concludes the enumeration of the characters who go through their 
merry pranks in this book. 

This novel portrays the moral coloring of the French society 
that he saw and there are very few invented or imagined elements 
in this work. The same is true of the next book to be considered, 
which is not quite as accurate, but nevertheless based upon con- 
temporary facts. It is Les Aphrodites. The Aphrodites, also known 
as Morosophs, were a society of men and women current in the 
reign of Phillip of Orleans. At first they met in Paris on the slope 
of the valley of Montmorency under the chairmanship of a certain 
Marquis de Person. The purpose of the society was simply the 
gratification of sensual lusts. These actual circumstances formed 
the skeleton of Nerciat's novel. He added some fictitious material 
to the plot and embroidered everything with fragments of his own 
eclectic sophistries. 

A summary of Les Aphrodites follows: 

The chevalier dismounts from his horse and enters a villa before 
the gates of Paris. Two servitors, one dumb and the other deaf, lead 
him to the landlady of this house of joy. Mme. Durut receives the 
guest joyfully; for it was she who had inducted him into the mys- 
teries of love four years ago, and since that time she has not seen him. 
Durut lets him examine and adore every one of her charms, for 


despite her thirty-six years she still knows how to captivate men. 
Then she brings him to a boudoir where a negress washes him and 
a maid soothes him with chocolate. In the meantime the proud and 
high-spirited Duchess de Enginieres enters to keep a rendezvous 
with a certain count. She is disgruntled at being kept waiting and 
orders a bath prepared in the meantime, to be accompanied by 
appropriate reading. Mme. Durut brings her Mirabeau's My Con- 
version and Le Fils d'Hercule; the first is rejected by the noble- 
woman because its author, himself a nobleman, had taken active 
part in the revolution. Durut now weaves a new intrigue. She 
arouses interest of the duchess in the chevalier whom she speaks of 
as her nephew and calls him in on the pretext that the duchess is 
a famous actress who can help him get a place in her company. 
Durut presently leaves the two alone and the chevalier acts the 
chambermaid when the duchess leaves her bath. She now suggests 
that the young man who has pleased her shall enter the bath; the 
chevalier plays the part of a real lover despite her struggles, which 
arouses her fury since she regards the love of any but a nobleman 
as an abomination. In the meantime, the expected count, the real 
lover of the duchess, arrives but Durut receives him and knows how 
to detain him from disturbing the pastime of the duchess. She sends 
him Celestine, her supposed step-sister, who arouses the count to 
a double sacrifice. During this love episode Durut hurries to the 
duchess and the chevalier and informs the lady that he is really a 
nobleman. Whereupon the latter is relieved and overjoyed. Mean- 
while the count, who has tired of waiting, comes in and is witness 
to his defeat. A duel appears unavoidable, but the cunning Durut 
knows how to mollify the rivals. At a sumptuous repast to which 
Celestine is also invited, the roles are exchanged. The duchess 
chooses the count and the chevalier, Celestine, so that general 
satisfaction is achieved. After the guests have gone, Durut remains 


alone with Celestine and they go over their account to discover 
that this month has brought them a surplus of 1200 livres. The 
outstanding debts are discussed and the perverse erotic practices 
of certain members come in for full discussion. 

The next visitor is the Marquise Fieremotte who is looking for 
a travelling companion. Durut has suggested M. de Limecoeur and 
while they are waiting for him, the marquise spends her time with 
Bel-amour in reading the eroticon Matinee Libertine. Limecoeur 
arrives punctually, but the post doesn't suit him and he declines 
the offer. The disappointed panderess notifies the marquise of his 
decision; she desires to speak with him herself, only they must 
both be masked. Limecoeur is given a comfortable sleeping outfit 
and is led to the marquise. Her voice captivates him at once and 
he ravishes her. However, to punish him for his initial reluctance 
the marquise slips away with the help of Durut. They inform him 
that she has already journeyed to Paris in her chariot and that she 
is ugly as night but he will not renounce his passion. 

The next chapter introduces us to M. de Trottignac who, because 
he is such a swaggerer, has been hurled into a cage. A physician 
examines him to see whether he is infected. Then Celestine tests 
his virility by hanging a 1 50-lb. weight upon his tumescent organ, 
which the athlete easily carries for three minutes. At the recom- 
mendation of another member he is accepted. Next morning 
madame looks up the marquise and discovers that she has come to an 
agreement with Limecoeur. Now Durut plays the panderess and 
instead of Bel-amour she sends her the Chevalier Alfons whom 
we've met above, disguised as a servitor. The latter succeeds in 
achieving his goal which is eternally one. In the meantime Lime- 
coeur has gone off to Paris. 

The early scenes of the second volume are enacted at a country 
house near Paris. Mme. de Montchaud confesses to her cousin, 


Mme. Valcreux, that her deceased husband had been insufficient 
for her temperament and that the thirty-seven monks of the 
cloister had been collaborators. Mme. Durut enters and brings 
Mme. Valcreux an enormous godemiche, which the latter promptly 
appropriates; with the aid of her cousin a trial performance is forth- 
with instituted. Through Durut, Mme. de Montchaud makes an ap- 
pointment with Trottignac but can't get an earlier date than the 
following Sunday for he has a very crowded calendar. Then 
Countess Motte-au-feu comes upon the scene and relates to Mme. 
Durut the number of her lovers. For twenty years, from her first 
day to the present, there are 4959 — which does not give one even 
a day, she complains. But she reads the names, recruited from every 
conceivable class, princes, nobles, prelates, officers, judges, monks, 
soldiers, servants, negroes, mulattoes and many of unknown occu- 

There are numerous other episodes which shall not be mentioned 
here. Not many of these are distinguished for their high tone and 
very little is to be gained by spending time over such matters. The 
important point to be remembered is that this novel was as common 
to eighteenth-century France as dozens of best sellers are in the 
United States. It reflects and sets in high relief the customs of the 
country, for literature and manners go hand in hand. When litera- 
ture turns from the trivial to the erotic and then to the licentious, 
we shall merely report the latter without giving it any detail or 
length of description. 


The erotic literature of the gallant period reached its culmination 
in the Marquis de Sade. In his work there is found everything that 


an imagination wallowing in the cesspools of the most offensive 
vileness could conjure up — a reversal of all values. The good is 
trampled in the dirt, but a hymn of praise is sung to baseness, and 
the scum of the earth are now regarded as the leading and illustri- 
ous spirits and as paragons of conduct. What a dissolute, infernally 
clever fancy could invent in the way of crime and disgusting 
scenes, is recommended to the world with grinful delight and dia- 
bolical animality as the only laudable condition. To this monster 
nothing was holy or noble; he touched nothing that he did not soil. 
Human honor, an empty word without content. Men are only to be 
considered insofar as they can serve a hellish passion which is gener- 
ated to its highest voltage by the sight of the most horrible pains 
inflicted upon some one else. The delight of this voluptuary could 
only be purchased with the pain of another. A woman's sensation 
of pleasure can sometimes be shammed, but her pain never. Cruelty 
is the highest virtue especially when it is tied up with sexual activi- 
ty. Nothing is so monstrous that it cannot become a source of joy. 
He delights in bloody corpses, children torn from the arms of their 
mothers, girls burned at the end of an orgy; goblets filled with 
blood and wine; and all sorts of unheard of tortures. Caldrons boil, 
torture benches are made ready, and the skin is torn of the living 
flesh. There are shouts and curses; people bite each and literally 
tear each other's hearts out. And this continues incessantly through 
every page of ten interminable volumes. 

God, religion, ethical commandments are butts for a horrible art, 
and serve only to heighten passion. The servants of the church were 
themselves the accomplices in these disgusting debauches and prac- 
tices. It is they, principally, who cannot do enough in the way of 
mocking repulsively at the precepts of religion and morals. When 
one thinks of this, obscenities, cruelties and blasphemies combined 
and served up with a devilish philosophy, many of the scenes based 


on actually experienced incidents, the example of a corrupt society 
always before the eye, a society whose members sought to surpass 
each other only in profligacy, who clamored for the sweet poison 
of pornography in all the relationships of life and hailed every one 
that could purvey a new variation of pleasure, one cannot be sur- 
prised that the revolution came and indeed had to come. . . The 
corrupting influence of an imagination operating with the most 
unthinkable cruelties had to make itself felt finally. This condition 
spread from so-called society down to the people and after cruelty 
had been praised as the stimulant of passion and practiced to a 
small degree, then the blood-shedding of the reign of terror was 
only a magnification of the same doctrine by the larger group that 
had become infected by it. If the former had had to see suffering 
and blood in order to be merry, then Robespierre and his associates 
found no less joy and passion when the heads clattered down by the 
dozens from the sharp knife of the guillotine. 

De Sade fitted into such an age and was its typical representative. 
You may recall Flaubert's forceful judgment about him, that he was 
the last word of the medieval and Renaissance Church for in him 
spake the spirit of the inquisition, of punishment by torture, of 
aversion to nature. In 1791 there appeared his Justine which in the 
first edition is only obscene and does not contain the blood-drenched 
incidents of subsequent editions. The year 1797 saw the edition of 
Justine and Juliette — with 104 horrible illustrations both as regards 
subject and execution. De Sade was well aware of his destructive 
contribution and in his foreword he remarks that virtue might well 
forget to wipe her tears in pride that France should possess such a 
significant work, one that combines the most cynical language with 
the strongest and most daring system of immoral and blasphemous 
ideas. The tendency of his infamous book is meager enough. In 
Justine virtue, represented by Justine is very unfortunate, falls into 


evil and crime. The good fortune of vice is portrayed in horrible 
pictures. The basic thought is that either there is no God or else He 
is not concerned A\^ith the welfare of man, else virtue would not 
suffer so much here on earth, nor would vice have such triumphs. 
He adds iniquitously: "Will not men say that when virtue is 
followed by misfortune and vice by prosperity that it is better to go 
with the scoundrels who are favored by nature than with the vir- 
tuous who meet with ruin? In order to bolster up this point of view 
— there is no point in concealing it — we wish to give to the world 
the story of Justine. Maybe this will induce those fools to quit 
praying to that ridiculous idol of virtue which will only reward 
them with ingratitude; and will strengthen in the opposite belief 
those sensible folk who always see the amazing examples of happi- 
ness and fortune which crime and debauchery almost invariably 
bring in their wake." And how much monstrous evil there is in this 
grimace. "It is undoubtedly painful to have to recount the dreadful 
misfortunes that pour upon the gentle and sensitive woman who 
hearkens entirely to the voice of virtue; and on the other hand to 
demonstrate that those who persecute this very woman and drive 
her to death, enjoy great happiness. But the author who is enough 
of a philosopher to be able to tell the truth stands above these un- 
pleasantnesses. Coerced by necessity, to cruelty, he tears down with 
merciless hands the superstitious veils with which stupidity seeks 
to beautify virtue, and shows to the ignorant man, who has been 
gulled until now, vice with all the charms and joys that follow from 
it uninterruptedly. For these reasons we shall describe crime in the 
most cynical language and with the most immoral and godless 
ideas, crime as it is, triumphant, always satisfied and always happy; 
whereas virtue shall be seen as eternally unhappy, and persecuted." 
In the same style as Sade's larger work is his Philosophy m the 
Boudoir. It is not unlikely that Mirabeau's Education of Laura gave 


Sade the impetus and perhaps the idea to compose this work. The 
education of a young girl to vice is represented in the form of 
dialogues and long quasi-academic speeches, only punctuated every 
so often by the practical demonstration and application of the 
theoretic principle so discussed. A few words about the contents 
may not be irrelevant. In the first conversation there appears Mme. 
de St. Ange and her brother, Chevalier de Mirvel. The lady is a 
Juliette type who poisons everything she touches and her brother 
is far inferior to her. The scene is dominated by Dolmance, a 
thoroughbred in vice, cynic, pederast and atheist. Eugenie de Alist- 
val, a young girl, is being expected. Mme. St. Ange had corrupted 
her so far theoretically that only a bit of practice is necessary for 
her to be a real prostitute. In the course of a single afternoon she is 
duly initiated into all the mysteries of sex life. Later others are 
added to the corps of instructors in the applied art, the Chevalier, 
a gardener boy, and the idiot Augustin, so that Eugenie learns the 
arrangement of obscene groups. Towards evening, when Eugenie 
has already become a ferocious erotic monster, her mother comes 
in. In the sight of her exulting daughter she is monstrously raped, 
infected with syphilis by the slave Lapierre, and before they go to 
the table, Eugenie must carry out the operation of infibulation upon 
her mother. 

Another of his books. Aline and Valcoiir reminds one very 
strongly of the Justine. Valcour, a virtuous young man loves Aline, 
the lovely daughter of the gentle wife of the cruel President de 
Blamont. The latter desires his daughter to marry the old debauche 
Dalbourg, to which old man he had already given the virtuous 
Sophie whom he regarded as his own daughter, for a mistress. He 
yearns to have his plan succeed for a vile reason. After the marriage 
he intends to give his own wife, Mme. de Blamont, to Dalbourg 
for a lover, and in return he wants to get the latter's wife, namely 



his o\\Ti daughter AHne, as his lover. The plan fails. Aline kills 
herself and her mother is poisoned at the command of her husband. 
Valcour enters a monastery. Dalbourg becomes \artuous and the 
President must flee. In Rosa and Leonore there are represented two 
foul hussies. The latter especially is always in luck and is a sort of 
pendant to Juliette. 

Sade also wrote a pamphlet against Napoleon which earned for 
him the enmity of the mighty Corsican. It is Xoloe and her Acolytes 
and deals with the debaucheries of Napoleon and his circle. Zoloe 
represents Josephine and the two acolytes, Lameda and Volsange, 
symbolize Mesdames Tallien and Visconti. In very sluttish style, 
Sade relates the orgies of these three women with three male part- 
ners. So far as obscenity goes, Sade does not surpass any of his con- 
temporaries. It was not immorality, but the satirical sallies against 
Napoleon and his circle that aroused the ire of the ruler. When the 
story appeared in 1800, a tremendous scandal ensued. Practically 
all the characters were easily recognizable. Thus d'Orsac, anagram 
for de Corse, was Napoleon. Sabar stood for Barras, etc. In 1 80 1 , 
while Sade was visiting his publisher and discussing the rewritten 
Juliette which he had brought with him, he was arrested. He was 
kept prisoner in the Hospital of Charenton where he died on 
December 2, 18 14 at the age of 75. It is very interesting to note 
that Sade sent a de luxe copy of Justine to the consul and his two 
foremost assistants in the state, and that Napoleon had no other 
punishment for this immense boldness than to consign the work to 
the fire. 

About thirty years ago. Dr. Iwan Bloch, the world's foremost 
authority on Sade, found another work of Sade's which had been 
preserved in ms. only: The 120 days of Sodom. This ms. has a rich 
history. Although it was well known that Sade had written such a 
work, it was held to be lost because in 1832 the ms. of an unedited 


work of Sade's was burnt in the presence of the latter's son, and this 
was presumed to be Les 120 Joiirnees de Sodome. However, it must 
have been another, for Bloch was able to find this ms. Sade wrote 
it while he was in the Bastille, in 36 days between October 22 to 
November 27, 1785. He worked at it three hours daily between 7 
and 10 in the evening and wrote in loose papers which he pasted 
end to end until he had a roll 1 2 meters long. Inasmuch as he lacked 
paper, he wrote on the reverse side of the roll as well. Thus the ms. 
in its final form is a roll of strips written on both sides. When the 
Marquis left the Bastille in 1789 this ms., together with other of 
his works, remained there. It finally came into the possession of the 
family Villeneuve-Trans where it stayed for three generations until 
Bloch found it. But no customer was found for it. A young German 
novelist succeeded in deciphering the almost microscopic writing, 
now almost illegible through age. The book seems undoubtedly to 
be the one referred to by Restif de la Bretonne, and the internal 
evidence is almost irrefutable. The peculiarities of his sentence 
structure, tropes of speech, and narrative manner are perfectly in 
evidence here. And above all there is the peculiar defense of the 
most profligate passion so idiopathic of Sade, which comes to clearer 
expression here than in any other work. The plan of this book has 
come down to us and although only a part of it lies completed in 
the 120 Days, we can see that this book was conceived on a far 
larger scale than even the comprehensive Justine. All conceivable 
perversions were to be illustrated through 600 examples. The plan 
of the story is the following. Four wealthy rakes, too blase to find 
any joy in the ordinary pleasures of life, join forces in a most 
unusual and passionate undertaking. They have panders and pan- 
deresses journey all through France to abduct the handsomest boys 
and prettiest girls from the richest and most distinguished families. 
From this collection the most attractive are chosen and with other 


objects of lust are brought to an inaccessible mountain castle belong- 
ing to one of the voluptuaries. In this castle they immure themselves 
with their victims. All entrances are walled up and the only bridge 
that connects the castle with the outside world is broken down. And 
now, secure from any surprise or interruption in this marvellously 
constructed castle, appointed with every luxury and every think- 
able necessity, they are ready for the beginning of the most extra- 
ordinary orgies. Four of the most experienced brothel mistresses 
of Paris have the duty of relating in assigned order and in full 
detail, the experiences of their life. In the course of a month each 
woman will have told 150 stories of the most interesting cases of 
sexual perversions in her experience. In all, then, there were to be 
600 different tales of sexual profligacy, systematically ordered, and 
proceeding in the direction of ever greater and rarer perversions. 
In this way the whole great realm of Psychopathia sexualis is un- 
rolled before us, clearly and thoroughly. During these narratives 
the human objects, of the debauchees' lust of both sexes and every 
age, are kept on hand so that whatever sex urge is roused in them 
by any of the stories, may immediately be gratified. 


Sade's antipode and yet like him in many ways, except in the cruelty 
typical of Sade, is Restif de la Bretonne, whose printed works num- 
ber two hundred and twelve volumes. He is as much of a grapho- 
maniac as Sade. He writes about his life, his experiences from day 
to day without inventing much. He doesn't see anything objection- 
able in using his own correspondence and does not even halt at 
giving the names of people. He desires to portray the truth: "/^ dois 
et je ne dois rien dire que la verite, jiit-elle impertinentey And im- 
pertinent it certainly was on innumerable occasions, for Restif was 


also an erotomaniac. Women had to give content to his life and with- 
out them life was empty. Hence his whole existence revolved about 
them, the bringers of joy and the sources of happiness; in short, his 
life was fixed by the sexual. Eulenberg's judgment about him was 
that he was goaded by the wildest sensuality and driven by the 
idolatrous worship of his own self to a sort of exhibitionism. For 
that reason he was able as no other to analyze the origin and dis- 
tinctiveness and demoniac force of sexual love and to devote to his 
ego a most refined cultivation. 

Thus he relates the story of his life in sixteen volumes, entitled 
Monsieur Nicolas, which is nothing more than the narrative of his 
erotic achievements. In the thirteenth volume he keeps a diary of 
all the women whose acquaintance he had made, had seduced and 
impregnated. Very likely anecdotes and experiences of others are 
woven into it, for Count Tilly once mentioned that Restif , who had 
never met him, had once requested the story of certain of the count's 
amorous exploits, which the latter very decidedly refused to impart. 
Despite the not infrequent obscenities and the free scenes, a very 
definite value attaches to the work. Schiller held it in high regard, 
and in 1789 wrote to Goethe to inquire whether the latter had ever 
read the unusual work of Restif. 

"I have already read it and despite much that is flat, distaste- 
ful or even revolting, have nevertheless greatly enjoyed it. For 
I have never come across a nature so sensual; and one must also 
be interested in the multitude of characters, particularly fe- 
male, the vitality and contemporaneity of the writing, and the 
depiction of the moral life of certain classes of the French peo- 
ple. For one who has so little opportunity to draw from outside 
sources and to study men in real life, such a book has incalcul- 
able value." 

Another work of Restif is also well known. The Contemporaries, 
in seventeen volumes. These are a series of tales based on experiences 



and pictures of moral conditions. According to the established 
formula, Restif wishes to employ Catullus' phrase upon himself: 
Lasciva nobis pagina, vita proba. In the preface he says: "If science 
is deserving of respect, the same can certainly not be asserted of 
false modesty. The Contemporaries is a piece of moral medicine. 
Should the details appear ribald, it is in its essentials desening of 
respect and is destined for a career of great moral usefulness. For 
what is a novelist? The painter of moral conditions. Now morals are 
corrupt. Shall I then depict the morals of an ideal creature? You re- 
spectable ladies, hold your nose against this thoroughly hypocritical 
public morality, those infamous double entendres, those free ges- 
tures, those shameless expressions that men permit themselves to 
say in your presences and before your daughters as w^ell. But do not 
account it a crime if a courageous waiter who, serving a moral 
purpose, dares to hold a mirror to vice in order to bring you know- 
ledge, uses perforce revolting matters, in order ultimately to im- 
prove them." But, despite these emphatic words, we feel in every 
line what utter joy he finds in tarrying over the most intimate 
things, and what expansiveness must be his as he indulges himself 
in the broadest drawing of the most immoral incidents and situa- 
tions. The end is supposed to sanctify the means, but the end is 
no whit better than the means employed. 

In succeeding works, The Ruined Sivain and The Ruined Lass, 
he intendes to demonstrate that even the most exalted goodness 
must necessarily go to the dogs when touched by vice. Here is the 
most bizarre collection of adventures and characters possible; and in 
addition the milieu is constantly changing. Restif leads us to public 
houses, churches, free spirits, salons of worldly ladies, boudoirs of 
prostitutes and, with most deUght, to the brothel. The book is writ- 
ten in the form of letters and consists of scenes but loosely joined 
together. The characters are well drawn and vve feel that he has 


modelled them from life. These books he considered his best, writ- 
ten not only for his own time but for subsequent generations as well. 
But it was just these two novels that got him into difficulties with 
the police and especially with the censor, who delayed their pub- 
lication for two years. It required continued efforts and the enor- 
mous persistency of Restif, to free his book. He himself tells of 
seventy-two fruitless visits to the police. The animosity against 
these novels appears strange in view of the fact that so many other 
scandals of far worse and reprehensible quality were passed without 
a murmur. 

The next book to be mentioned took Restif 20 years to write. 
The Nights of Paris occupied every morning of these years. Here- 
in were inscribed that which he had seen and lived through the 
night before. Hence these eight volumes constitute an excellent 
account of the moral situation of the time. 

In the higmue Saxancous, he worked in the style of Sade. The 
book is supposed to tell the story of his daughter who had made a 
very unhappy marriage. After the wedding she has to give herself 
to the most profligate whims of her husband, a rake of the worst 
order, and suffers the most incredible cruelties. Naturally the 
material is such that there is no lack of obscenity, cynicism or 
cruelty; but none the less Dumas borrowed very much from this 
story for his own Ingenue. 

If Restif follows Sade here, he took up arms against him in an- 
other work where he scored Sade's horrible imagination. This erotic 
polemical tract was entitled Anti- Justine. This work was mapped 
out on a very large scale but of eight sections planned, only one and 
a fraction were completed. It is said that Restif finished six copies 
in his own underground press, of which number the secret division 
of the Paris National Library has about a half. La Bedoyere was the 
first to possess an original. Another was in the possession of Cigognes 


who sold it to the Duke of Aumale, whence it went to Frederick 
Hankey for 2000 francs. All the books of the latter later came into 
the possession of Pisanus Fraxi, who left his library to the British 
Museum, where there is probably a copy of the original. As in all his 
works, Restif represents himself in such a stupid fashion that the 
reader is at once repelled. TTiere is no development of character, no 
serious thought, only a piling up of erotic situations, pure pomology, 
only so improbable and so horribly tiresome! The very titles are 
so vile that we forbear to mention them. Suffice it to say that incestu- 
ous relations between father and daughter as well as between 
mother and son occupy a large place here. 

The obscenities with which the Anti-Justine is swollen were 
supposed to have been written for a moral purpose! Restif remarks 
in the preface to this book: "No one has been more irritated than I 
by the dirty works of the hideous Marquis de Sade — that is, the 
Justine, Boudoir, and Theory of Passion — which I read while in 
prison. This devil has represented the delights of love forever ac- 
companied by torture and murder. My purpose is to write a book 
that will be juicier than the others, one that women can confidently 
put into the hands of their husbands in order the better to be served 
by them; a book in which the heart will have its place by the side 
of the senses, in which passion knows no cruelty; in which love con- 
ceived naturally without any affection or hesitation conjures up 
only gay and joyous pictures. When one has read it one will wor- 
ship woman, and after one has enjoyed her, one will deify her. It is 
to be hoped that when that manslaughterer, Sade, will be dragged 
from jail on July 14, 1789 a whitebearded old man, he will be de- 
tested according to his deserts. May my charming work which I am 
herewith publishing annihilate his own; it is a bad book, perhaps, 
but written with a good purpose. Thus, I have only introduced 


incest in order to supplant those cruelties with which Sade gal- 
vanizes the senses of the enervated roues." 

Restif followed this intention and purveyed the coarsest and 
foulest depictions of passion possible. He was not by any means 
content with following the established custom of the time of the 
erotic writer, who has the tyro inaugurate his sex life by witnessing 
an erotic scene between his parents, or a pair of lovers. Oh, no, 
that will never do. He starts right off with perversities. First, his 
eight sisters are the objects of his youthful lust; then, he accidentally 
cohabits with his mother; and finally, the father seduces his own 
daughter; but "seducing" is hardly the word, for they give them- 
selves gladly and are as profligate as the narrator. In addition to his 
love for beautiful feet and shoes, Restif seems to have had a special 
predilection for ciinnilingus, for this form of sex satisfaction comes 
in for much attention. What is worse, he even has a scene after the 
fashion of the degenerated Sade. A rascal by the name of Vit-Negre 
sells his wife to a monk for 60,000 francs. The latter rapes her in 
such a brutal and bestial fashion that she dies of the consequences. 
Whereupon the latter draws and quarters his victim and finally 
consumes the pieces. Such horrible productions flowed from human 
minds! What a price to pay for the gift of language and thought! 




To WHAT purpose these writings served is obvious at first sight. 
It is true that in a certain number the erotic elements were 
subordinate to satire, panurgics or hbel — be it political, anti-clerical 
or personal. Some few others had undeniably artistic aims and 
actually achieved their ends. But by far the greatest portion of 
these works were written only to inflame erotic desires and amatory 
hunger or to enrich sex lust. And since the French of the rococo 
period were artists in pleasure, its ladies and gentlemen of the pen 
knew how to sound the proper chords perfectly calculated to a- 
chieve the desired effects. They are entirely free from Germanic 
heaviness. There is a good deal of chat and play and laughter, and 
love; but the latter is graceful and seductive, yet entirely without 
passion and having no connection with the inner spirit and the 
deeper emotion. One must be truthful to give the effect of truth, 
but this truth is born of the time. These erotica which permitted 
their purpose, viz., to seduce, to be clearly discerned, fluttered out 
into the world in little insignificant volumes, and were bought, 
read and discussed avidly. 

By the side of these stood the hypocrites who assumed a mask in 
order to remain unknown and the better to engage in their nefarious 
business. Is vice abominable? Certainly! Must one then be fright- 
ened away from it? Undoubtedly! But how can this occur without 
a thoroughly faithful reproduction of it? The more one unveils it, 


the greater will be the revulsion from vice. Virtue has real value 
only when it is based upon experience. Aside from this, all laws set 
penalties for crime. But how can one avoid that which one does not 
know thoroughly? Thus we have a second cogent reason for rep- 
resenting it in the most terrifying aspect and maximum clarity. 
But it is just the sins of a sex nature which are of greatly diverse 
character; hence they require diverse treatment. It is admitted, 
oddly enough, that the unchaste are stimulated by such reading to 
greater lust; but for them nothing is holy. The good, on the other 
hand, are strengthened in their virtue. Quod erat demonstrandum. 

It is striking how many works are directed against the clergy, 
monks and nuns. The reason is that the immoral conduct of the 
clergy, induced by their enforced "celibacy", had assumed the 
proportions of a national plague, so that nunneries were virtually 
disguised brothels. In these practises the nuns followed the com- 
forting dictum that much would be forgiven to whoever had loved 
much, and successfully forgot their vows. But the erotic writer 
doubted this intrepretation of their conduct, and has a different 
view of these matters altogether. To start with poverty, says he, 
can a girl documentate her lack of all needs better than when she 
removes everything till her skin? Can she show a more ravishing 
chastity in any words or deeds comparable to that of her gleaming 
natural nakedness? Can a nun show greater token of her obedience 
than when at the command of her priestly adviser she hikes her 
dress up to her navel, offers up her virginity or submits to flagella- 
tion? This interpretation has at least the virtue of originality. 

But one gets a very unpleasant impression when the preacher of 
morals, still wearing the mantle of morality, begins to revel in foul 
obscenities. Here an ethically degenerate Capuchin is lashing the 
vice of his time but he uses such expressions and images to leave no 
doubt that he is not at all in earnest about his preaching. 


Then too there was no dearth of manuals for worldings which 
contain much that is of interest to cultural history. They afford us 
an insight into the life of Parisian prostitutes, the affairs of the 
profligates of both sexes, and the chronicles of scandal. And be- 
cause debauchery is the rule, and virginity is to be found only in 
the cradle, another philanthropic author renders counsel how lovers 
can obtain even this rare dehght, and how they are to guard them- 
selves against second-hand goods being fubbed off on them as 
virgins. But it isn't only the males that are looked after and provided 
with advice. The females are taught ways and means, whose appli- 
cation is gone over in practice, how to palm off upon their unsus- 
pecting bridegrooms, their abused and marred virginal honor as 

It is obvious that the entire imaginations of these readers were 
utterly obsessed with eroticism. But the life of the normal person 
contains many other aims than sexual pleasure. Hence only those 
people were chosen as chief bearers of the erotic action who de- 
voted their whole life to "love", that is, brothel mistresses and 
celebrated whores. And it is remarkable how much these dames 
from the half- or quarter-world can accumulate in the way of ex- 
perience as related in many novels or memoirs written by them. 
Their whole deportment is based upon the experience accumulated 
on the capture of men, on a knowledge of the male psyche. And 
in the "pleasure" itself they must accommodate themselves to the 
wish of any of their fares, and submit to any of his lusts, however 
perverse or disgusting. Their business calls for it. 

Now if the prostitute lives through so much, especially in her 
love life, how much more is this true of the panderess. For no 
matter how energetic the strumpet is in her trade, she can after all 
know the taste of men only, and even then, of but a small group, 
for generally her clientel will be recruited from but one class 


of society. Hence her experience is always one-sided. But the 
panderess is differently situated since her vocation brings her into 
connection with all classes of the populace. Her clientel comprises 
women as well as men, and she knows how to appease the desire 
for sex partners of the opposite or the same sex. She purveys stout 
and vigorous navvies and farmhands of overflowing strength with 
the same ease that she supplies full-bloomed beauties and young 
girls barely in their teens. She procures for the lascivious rake the 
prostitute versed in all the arts of whoredom, and knows how to 
hunt up the virginity of a scarcely developed adolescent. She aids 
the powerfully natural instincts of the farmhand to find satisfaction 
and accommodates herself to the desires of a taste refined by "cul- 
ture". She comes into contact with the dregs of the people and at 
the same time counts among her customers the notables of the king- 
dom and the ladies in waiting to the queen. In short, she can cer- 
tainly claim for herself that nothing human is alien to her. Hence, 
such a worldly person who seems to know everybody and every- 
thing can certainly reveal a great deal when she has begun to dis- 
play the riches of her experience. That is why we find so many 
of these Memoirs, Confessions, Diaries, etc. of panderesses, in the 
erotic literature of this time. The calling of such a brokeress was 
not so despised and marked with the badge of shame as it is today. 
After all. Pompadour belonged to this profession, and Madame La 
Comtesse certainly had no negligible influence. Their activities were 
conducted publicly and were fairly well-known. One could really 
expect something from such confessions, and one was usually not 
disappointed. It scarcely needs to be mentioned that many of these 
memoirs were invented and that they were attributed to notorious 
loose women, opera girls and brothel mistresses, in order to make 
possible greater sales. These works had a perfectly tremendous 
success; and many a poor wretch who still had some shame left 


excused his conduct by pointing to the pubHc's taste which he was 
compelled to gratify or else starve. 

In another set of works, the results of a careless pleasure were 
set forth in the form of a confession. To the gallant diseases, such 
works as Foutromanie and Cacamonade erected a very questionable 
monument. Thus in The Mortificatio?is of Pleasure, the author un- 
folds his tale of woe. He had fallen in love with a married woman, 
given her presents and finally had won her favor but got a present 
from her that he hadn't anticipated. He has to undergo a long 
treatment, and while waiting for the cure, he makes the acquaint- 
ance of Auguste, an opera girl. She tells him her life story, and he 
lets himself be carried away; whereupon luck being against him, 
he becomes infected a second time. They both look forward to their 
cure; but he forever forswears love and w^men, whom he now 

After all, that is the natural result of every pleasure driven to the 
extent and enjoyed to the utmost, the insidious payment that lurks 
behind every intoxication. Before fulfillment, no price is too high 
to pay for the object of pleasure whose possession is considered of 
indispensable value. Afterwards, he (or she) who has been diseased 
by passion cannot find invective strong enough. Such works as 
Sade's can only arouse regret, surfeit and disgust. 

As far as the technique of the average erotic work is concerned 
there is a regularly recurrent scheme. Very typical is the increasing 
tempo with which these erotic scenes are portrayed. Starting from 
the gentle awakening of sensuality we are introduced to all the 
stages that a libidinous fantasy can imagine. A motif that is very 
popular is that of the keyhole. The young girl in her puberty once 
observes through the keyhole the antics of her parents or a pair of 
lovers as they perform the act, and from that time on her sexual 
imaginings, subconscious until now, take on tangible form. A very 


common device is the gradual initiation of the inexperienced into 
the arcana of sex, whereby the role of teacher or enlightener is 
usually played by an older and experienced girl friend. For this 
purpose the naive one must be made as naive as possible in order 
that the friend versed in all the procedures of "love" may be able 
to display her wares to best advantage. Usually she is married and 
reports to her astounded listener all the lurid and gory details of 
her defloration with the preliminary scenes and the ensuing orgies 
of delight. The naive one must ask questions if the narrative is not 
to become dull. Or a young man talks of his successes in the realm 
of Venus, tarrying at first in the realm of probability, and the first 
sortie into sex is graphically drawn. But after this peak has been 
passed, the narrator usually loses power and cannot invent anything 
new. His whole art now consists of multiplying erotic scenes, pro- 
gressively more improbable and revolting. All too rarely do we 
find cases where the author limits himself to single erotic incidents 
which are drawn with refinement of invention and wit. Of course, 
such excellence is the privilege of only extraordinary writers, who 
were not too common in eighteenth-century France. 

We have already seen that the rococo can be regarded as the 
classic age of erotic literature. This tremendous productivity which 
could appease every appetite must naturally have coexisted with 
a correspondingly great demand. If this had already reached an 
exorbitant figure, according to our present conceptions, it grew 
to enormous dimensions the nearer the Revolution came, and even 
after this world-shaking event. Thus, in 1796 Mercier reports that 
the only books displayed were the obscene ones, those whose titles 
and engravings outraged modesty and good taste alike. These por- 
neia were sold everywhere, at restaurants, near bridges, at the gates 
of the theatres and on the boulevards. They were sold cheaply 
enough from 10 sous a piece and up. They outdid each other in 


lust, and undermined public morals without a vestige of scruple. 
The peddlers of these brochures were to a certain degree privileged 
dispensers of obscenities, for every title that wasn't filthy was very 
obtrusively kept out of their display. From these defiled sources, 
youth drank up the essential elements of all vice, without hindrance 
or difficulty. What one would read on the title-pages of these 
pamphlets was alas! too true: "this pamphlet is always to be found 
in the pockets of even those who condemn it." The horrible Justine 
of the Marquis de Sade with its equally impossible and vicious en- 
gravings lay open in all shop windows. For our present-day, none 
too prudish notions such protected vice is criminal. Alercier de 
Compiegne (1763-1800) private secretary, marine official and 
finally book-seller, published a host of pornographic and scato- 
logical works, and even wrote some of them himself. Even in the 
very Bastille there was a secret press which printed the most ob- 
scene books, with which the police did a thriving business. 

The best erotic writers of this period found an inteUigent and 
sympathetic pubHsher in Cazin, who combined the business of 
printing with publishing. Born at Rheims in 1724, he took up the 
lucrative trade of bookselling and the still more lucrative one of 
publishing erotic works. His relations with Mercier de St, Leger 
and Merard de Saint-Just made matters easier for him and brought 
him to the idea of issuing a handsome collection of erotica, in line 
with his own taste. These works have been rewarded by the respect 
of book-collectors so that the merit of a Cazin edition is recognized 
even today. Until 1792 his business flourished but then came the 
revolution which brought him ruin and death. He was killed by a 
cannon ball as he left a cafe. 

Many examples have come down to us of striking and shocking 
productions of the erotic imagination. Carriage doors were deco- 
rated with pornographic drawings, and w^omen surpassed men in 


this ribaldry. The latter, not to be outdone, sought to score in an- 
other way by decorating their clothes with obscene pictures, 
namely their vestes de petits-soupers. According to the prevalent 
mode, the jackets were worn buttoned up and the upper portion 
of the vests could not be seen. The rich debauchees used to have 
their vests embroidered with obscene figures and at certain mo- 
ments they would unbutton their jackets and display their "art". 

It goes without saying that by the side of the cheap stuff designed 
by the masses, there were bibliophilic tidbits, illustrated by con- 
temporary artists, for the greater delectation of the elegant and 
rich. Pompadour possessed a library of such porneia, and in letters 
to her friends admits that she frequently experienced with pleasure 
the stimulating effect of such writings. 

When Sade speaks of obscene books and libraries, this rests on 
the foundation of facts. There is the characteristic scene in Juliette 
where she and Clairmil are browsing about in the home of the 
Carmelite Claude and come upon his excellent pornographic library. 
Juliette remarks: "You can have no idea what obscene books and 
pictures we found there." Among the books were the Porter of 
Chartreux, more of a prankish than a passionate book; the conversa- 
tions of Luisa Sigea, well planned but poorly carried out; Mirabeau's 
Laura, a poor scrawl with little passion and much murder; and 
Therese philosophe, about which Juliette is enthusiastic because 
here passion is combined in full harmony with atheism. A devastat- 
ing glance is cast at the horrid little brochures which are found in 
every cafe and brothel. In another place, too, at Delibene's, Juliette 
finds a large collection of erotic works, some of which she is to read 
during mass, in order to alleviate the monotony of having to sit 
through such a horrible ceremony. 

Two more important witnesses to the wide distribution of these 
works are Casanova and Goethe, though numerous others report the 


fact. In his memoirs, the former relates the following: "When the 
hour came I went to the Temple of Love. While I was waiting for 
my goddess I amused myself by examining the books of the small 
library which the boudoir contained. There weren't many books, 
but well chosen and worthy of their place. Here were all the books 
against religion, and all that passionate pens had written about the 
joys of love, seductive books whose style sets the reader on fire and 
compels him to seek the living reality of that whose incendiary de- 
piction he has just read. Many richly bound folio volumes contained 
lascivious copper plate engravings whose great merit consisted much 
more in the purity of their drawing than in the lewdness of their 
representations. The English engravings to the Porter, the pictures 
to Aloysia, and others, all were of rare beauty. Innumerable master- 
pieces covered the walls of the room, all masterworks of the same 
sort a > the copper plates. I spent an hour in examining these things, 
which aroused such an excitement in me that I could scarcely await 
the arrival of my mistress who presently entered bedizened in men's 
clothes." From the account of our second chronicler Goethe, we 
learn that raw warriors carried such stimulants about with them. In 
Wahrheit iind Dichtung, he reports how he found erotic paintings 
in the room of the lieutenant Thorane. Seeing a black box behind 
the oven he drew it forth little suspecting what it might contain. 
To his great surprise he found a collection of paintings which very 
rarely come to one's eye, and which sent the blood tingling through 
his body with a great excitement and heat. 

It is hardly worthy of notice that the brothels were richly fur- 
nished with such articles for the stimulation of the impotent. So, 
we are told the famous house of A4me. Gourdan had a small chamber 
called the Infirmerie in which the light fell from above. On the 
walls hung passionate paintings and engravings, in the corners stood 
obscene plastic figures and groups, and on the tables reposed ob- 


scene books. In the autobiography of Clairon (about 1750), whom 
the brothers Goncourt have called the most delicate artiste in love 
that the eighteenth century possessed, we are informed that to make 
herself more desirable she educated her spirit through educative 
and piquant reading. "Brantome and Aloysia delighted me with a 
thousand beauties. The attractive pictures found therein were a 
feast to the eye and mind and I could hardly await with im- 
patience when I could transmute these pictures into reality". The 
library of the Marechale de Luxembourg consisted of the Thirty - 
six Postures of Aretino, Philosophical Theresa, and Luisa Sigea. 
Short but significant is her comment apropos of a livre polisson of 
Count Besenval: "It can be read with one hand only". 

Interestingly enough, it was women who supplied the greatest 
contingent of readers. In fact, their hypocrisy went so far that they 
bound obscene pictures and brochures into their prayer books so 
that by this means they could drive away boredom during mass 
and yet retain the reputation of piety. Here is what the Duke de 
Choiseul says in his memoirs: "The nobles of Hautefontaine and 
their guests would not have missed a Sunday mass for the w^orld. 
Everyone went to church very proudly, but it was not considered 
remarkable to see a smile playing around the lips of a worshipper, 
here and there. Everyone had a book in his or her hand out of which 
they read greedily. According to the covers it is a prayerbook, but 
its contents are really a collection of indecent, scandalous tales. This 
is known to all, and all week these books remain in the chapel for 
the delectation of the servitors and watchmen." 

In the Voyage through the Boudoir of Pauline (1800) in which 
La Libordiere depicts how the girls of his time lived, he praises 
his mistresses for lacking those obscene engravings which were 
being exhibited as openly as pious paintings had been in days gone 
by. His own chosen one, he relates with pride, had in her chamber 


no passionate pictures, no voluptuous paintings which are calcu- 
lated to seduce. But so saying he continues the report with the 
statement that he had advised her to visit certain literary rooms 
where she would find the choicest collection of the best novels 
produced in France during the previous four years. No one hesitated 
to present such panurgics to women; indeed it was quite the thing. 
The books were produced in pocket editions, and every dress was 
made with a special pocket for this purpose. 

Sade praised his own works as models of obscene reading matter 
and reports that in the execution chamber of the Archbishop of 
Grenoble an Abbe read the Philosophy in the Boudoir. In book- 
shops these books were displayed opened up so that their contents 
might be sampled by all; and they were everywhere to be had. 
They were listed in all catalogues and sold without any hindrance 
A great capitalist supported the distribution both domestic and 
foreign with ample means, and reaped a pretty return from his in- 
vestment. Sade even dared to send a de luxe edition of his Justine 
to the members of the Directory, and even when Napoleon became 
consul the distribution of these pornographies was not interfered 
with. But all this was suddenly changed in 1801. In the previous 
year Sade had been thoughtless enough to launch his Zoloe vidth its 
denigration of Napoleon and its anti-religious fulminations. These 
factors, and not its overweening immorality, were responsible for 
the ensuing persecution of Sade's work which soon extended to 
most other erotic works. At the command of Napoleon all com- 
positions of this category in the possession of his soldiers or their 
prostitutes were confiscated and destroyed. Only two copies of 
every work were kept and secreted in the National Library at 
Paris, as reported by Penchet, erstwhile archivist of police under 
Napoleon. Parent-Duchatelet, author of the Imjnorality of Women 
in Paris got a glimpse of this collection and actually saw them on the 


ground floor. This collection is still extant today and it has been 
greatly augmented by many new acquisitions. It is very strongly 
guarded and one can gain access to it only by permission of the 
local police. 

A collection of such works, almost comparable to the one just 
mentioned, is that contained in the Palais Bourbon at Paris. This 
library also dates from the time of the revolution and was the 
property of the famed law teacher and politician, Gaston Camus. 
In 1793 he was sent by the convent to disarm Dumouriez but was 
turned over by the latter to the Austrians who kept him prisoner 
for two years, until he was exchanged for the daughter of Louis xvi. 
When he returned to Paris, he succumbed to the book-collecting 
fever. At that time the gallant libraries of emigrated nobles were 
thrown upon the market for sale, in mass quantities, and Camus 
bought up everything pertaining to Jesuits, theology, and above all 
else, pornography. Later he presented his collection to the Palais 
Bourbon, where the Council of Five Hundred met, and where the 
Chamber of Deputies now has its seat. Today this library is patron- 
ized more than any other. \ 






THE French Revolution with its reign of terror was able to clean 
up the French love of life for a little while especially since 
that portion of society which before the revolution had been most 
set on such pleasures, viz., the nobility, was now out of France; 
but even so, this restriction could last only awhile. The type of 
love which had reigned in the pre-revolutionary salon did not soon 
return, for at present the field was held by the plebeian coarse 
manners of the parvenu speculators and usurers who had battened 
on the misery of the people. What there remained o^ the old 
society did not dare to resume its old life out of fear of the new 
wielders of power, but by that much more did the mob and the 
bourgeoisie throw itself into the enjoyment of its new freedom. 
Never was there so much immorality as in the years following 
the revolution. Presently there came into being the society balls 
to which every man had access, for there were no differences of 
rank and position. To these came the grand ladies of the former 
society, rich profiteers, officers of the revolution, and many, many 
prostitutes; and each vied with the other in constrained merriment, 
in order to forget the worries of the time. 

As a consequence of the colossal changes, the people lost all 
understanding of spiritual interests and set up the belly for its god. 
The place of spirituality now came to be occupied by the adoration 
of crude power. Post-revolutionary France made a cult of ath- 


leticism: boxing, wrestling, etc. The men of brawn who participated 
in these tournaments and matches feasted like Homer's heroes. To 
be a big eater was a grand thing and these fellows enacted the most 
incredible eating bouts. Thus there was one titan who once put 
away loo dozen oysters for breakfast. It is understood that such 
gluttony was accompanied by equally tremendous guzzling. The 
other amusements of the time were on the same level. The crudest 
jokes were in order and there was no prank too coarse. At this 
time clowns and mysticateurs were very popular at parties. And 
after these had set the tone and enough wine had been consumed, 
there came the recitation of bawdy stories and the most revolting 

What could one expect of this crowd which had grown rich 
overnight? Everything could be bought for money and even the 
members of the Directory were accessible to bribery. From their 
residence, the Palais Luxembourg, the pestilential vapors of their 
moral corruption rose up and poisoned their surroundings. Barras, 
the lazy passionate glutton, needed a great deal of money for his 
feasts and orgies. Hence he had to let himself be bought, as did 
the other directors. Women threw themselves upon Barras, grease- 
ball that he was, and he didn't pass up any one of them, not Joseph- 
ine Beauhamais, who was later to become empress, nor Madame 
Tallien who was open to anyone who could pay for her, nor the 
mulatto Hamelin, who would publicly expose her nakedness 
through its "moral" covering of muslin, nor Madame Recamier who 
knew modesty only above the waist, nor dozens of other citizen- 
esses who gave themselves to this voluptuary without a struggle. 
If they could gain something by their surrender to this omnivorous 
roue they regarded their physical surrender as worthwhile. Napo- 
leon realized that there must be certain ordered conditions of life 
if his rule were to be maintained. Hence he made the strongest 


efforts to check this immorality but without much success. He did 
however succeed in increasing public safety and reducing brigand- 
age. The salons reappeared and the rawness of the immorality of 
the years immediately preceding was mitigated. At these parties 
the emigres would be in attendance and would reintroduce the 
vices of pre-revolutionary times. Yet Napoleon countenanced 
these parties and even encouraged and subsidized some of them 
for through them his spies were able to keep tabs on certain people. 
The chief of the secret service Fouche went to great expense to 
have numerous purveyors of information. Many unsuspected ladies 
of society stood in his pay and were expected to overhear the 
conversation of their guests and to ascertain their various reactions. 
Many a soiree ended with an arrest — a tribute to the faithful work 
of these spies. When Napoleon was in the field one of his faithful 
ones, Madame de Genlis, had the obligation of keeping him in- 
formed about opinions current in Paris, at an annual salary of 6,000 
francs and free residence in the arsenal. Even the domestic servants 
of the Corsican were not seldom paid to keep him informed about 
what was going on at home. 

All efforts were directed at keeping the revolutionary spirits in 
check in order to safeguard the hardly won imperial power. The 
best and easiest way to achieve this goal was to permit all sexual 
impulses to be satisfied. In this way those restive spirits who were 
dissatisfied with his regime were silenced. Indeed, he himself set a 
good example in this direction. He who in all his actions showed the 
despot did not belie this character in sexual matters. When he wanted 
a woman he made no pretense about charming deportment or win- 
ning conduct. He wasn't at all concerned about captivating the 
lady with the charms of his personahty. An order to his valet or 
his privileged pander was held to be sufficient to supply the desired 
object. And if his fame was not sufficient to attract the lady, she 


was brought by force. His impulses are best illuminated by the 
concealed fact that he would sometimes in the midst of the most 
bloody battle dash into his tent and order a woman toute de suite. 
His relatives were lashed by the same fierce impulses. One need 
only think of Jerome who didn't permit anything to stand in the 
way of his epicurean life; or of Lucien who, when his mistress no 
longer satisfied him, shared her with his friend. He finally got so 
enmeshed in the snares of the notorious whoremonger Mme. Jou- 
berthon, that he made her his lawful spouse. As compared to 
Jerome, Lucien was an ideal personality, for this caricature of a 
human being regarded the court of Cassel as a harem, and many 
women dazzled by his royal status fell victim to him. His physicians 
were constantly engaged in restoring his expended vitality of which 
in truth he had none too much, and they believed that wine baths 
would be the best remedy for his malady. The wine thus used 
would, after the bath, be bottled up by the courtiers and secretly 
sold to the innkeepers of Cassel. One remembers his lovely and 
dissolute sister Pauline, of whom one of her erstwhile lovers, Fred- 
erick, wrote in his memoirs; Forty Years out of the Life of a Dead 
07ie, that at twelve she had already had lovers; and the malicious 
world had it, though without justice, that Napoleon himself had 
been one of them. Very well known are the adventures which 
under the name of Amelie she enjoyed with a young man with 
whom she had many rendezvous at i88. Rue du Bac. One day 
he went to the theatre and was struck dumb with amazement to 
see his Amelie bedecked with brilliants in the imperial box and 
learned that she was Princess Borghese, Napoleon's sister. The next 
morning he was ordered to appear at the ministry of the Interior 
and a very lucrative post was assigned him some fifty leagues away 
from Paris; but he had to leave for his new situation within 48 
hours. Everyone knows her amourettes with the actor Lafont 


Forbin, the Prince Cononville, etc., whose horse (and rider) Na- 
poleon during an inspection found too wild and hence sent hundreds 
of miles away from Paris. For the most part however the great 
number of Pauline's adventures as well as those of her sisters re- 
mained unknown to their royal brother for no one was eager to 
bring them to his notice. Even the chief of spies Fouche was unwill- 
ing to bring his master into bad humor. 

Nor were the other members of the royal family any better. 
Not the step-daughter Hortense, the former mistress of her royal 
step-father who, when she was pregnant, attached her to his 
brother Ludwig; nor Joseph who was intimate with the most in- 
famous courtesans, such as Mme. Regnault, a veritable nympho- 
maniac, probably one of the most immoral women of her time, 
whose husband calmly regarded his notorious wife's sexcapades 
and capitalized on them. Concerning the latter there are many pi- 
quant anecdotes. These conditions were very widespread. Even 
Talleyrand, Napoleon's most influential minister, who lived with 
a demi-mondaine of very low grade, (and had to marry her later 
at the direction of his master) once expressed his regret at the 
death of one of his trollop's intimates: "He was an honorable man 
and gave her good counsel which she certainly needed. Who knows 
into what hands she will fall next?" 

The memory of the gallant pre-revolutionary times in which 
the designation of "whore" was regarded as a title of honor was 
still too green for giving too much honor to chastity; but the former 
remembrance was distant enough to give some rein to the puritanism 
demanded by the heroes of the revolution. Gluttony and epicurean- 
ism came to the fore again. The famous dinners of the Minister 
Cambaceres could have taught Lucullus plenty. His table was dec- 
orated by the rarest delicacies and this at a time when the endless 
wars of Napoleon had brought extreme poverty to the land. 


In a government which depended exclusively upon the might 
of bayonets it is obvious that the army would occupy the first place 
in the life of the nation. The officers, the backbone of the army, 
were distinguished for nothing more than a good figure and smart 
uniform. They carried over into civilian life the rude manners 
which characterized them in the roughness of martial existence, 
and their excessive combativeness and cruelty were a great burden 
for the public. Play, women and gossip were the chief amusements 
of garrison life. When the warriors went off to the wars their 
womenfolk amused themselves very agreeably indeed, and to such 
an extent that many disliked the approach of peace, with the con- 
sequent return of the husband and the end of their delightful days. 
The marshals and the generals set the worst possible example 
to their subordinates in cruelty, dishonesty and lust. Wherever 
these fellows pitched their tent they indulged in orgies whose 
pomp and prodigality shame description. During his six months' 
stay at Lisbon, Junot had such an open table that 300,000 francs 
were insufficient to cover expenses, and of course his mistresses 
cost him no less than his table. These tremendous expenses, of 
course, were squeezed from the conquered land. 

All these upstarts sought to establish their reputation by sur- 
passing pre-revolutionary nobles in lavishness and extravagance. 
The aforementioned Junot paid a certain actress 12,000 francs 
for an hour of love. Napoleon never went beyond 4,000. Murat 
would never spend less than 500 francs for drinks. The women 
of these military leaders didn't lag behind in crazy prodigality. Thus 
200,000 francs for a toilette was not an infrequent expense. Duchess 
de Junot spent 10,000 francs for needle and thread. All these ladies 
accoutred in little more than a title and free of the weight of spirit 
or heart, were strong adherents to one moral principle: live and 
let live. There was no such thing as an open, deep and honest 


love for these folks. One seized the opportunity whenever it came, 
and then shook oneself free without much concern on either side. 
This was the society which owed much of its being to the Corsi- 
can and one can't say that he was proud of it. He realized that he 
could not hope for power and consolidated rule until he had suc- 
ceeded in winning over all the royalist groups. But despite all his 
efforts the latter remained on one side and met his efforts, to create 
a new nobility, with nothing but scorn. Napoleon was furious but 
did not show his wrath. Instead, he tried to appear grateful and 
drew the ladies of the old regime into his circle as court ladies. 
But he only succeeded in making of them witnesses to the scandal- 
ous practises of his family which contributed not a little to increas- 
ing the aversion of these elegant groups to him, who showed himself 
all too much in the manners of an upstart when he put on the glory 
of his imperialship. Thus he contributed to his own downfall. 



jiFTER the revolution, and in the first third of the nineteenth cen- 
/\ tury, moral conditions in France were not a bit better than 
they had been in pre-revolutionary days. The ladies of the demi- 
monde still set the pace for the rest of the world, Hiere was, to be 
sure, a police regulation ordering the confiscation of all publicly- 
exhibited indecent pictures of women, but so great was the number 
of prostitutes that this regulation was unenforceable. There were 
at least one thousand houses in Paris where public balls were held 
and where the half- world sought its victims. Since the court pro- 
ceedings took place quite publicly even when the most delicate 
and shameful matters were being discussed, "for only unworthy 
females would be present at that sort of thing," old and young ran 
to these hearings as though they were the most spicy theatre per- 
formances. Efforts were made in the theatres to restore morals and 
propriety. In 1 794 the former French theatre was reopened under 
the name of the Equality theatre, in which the actors were pledged 
to maintain the sanctity of morality and modesty. But it went no 
further than the pledge, and people flocked to the theatre if only to 
save light and heat at home. 

Prostitution could not be restrained although it did not perhaps 
flaunt itself as openly as before. How well appointed and politely 
conducted were the good Parisian brothels of that time can be 
learned from the memoirs of Castelii. There were servants in livery 


and the ladies and gentlemen wore formal clothes. There was no 
rude note, no conversation or amusement that would offend out- 
ward decency or honor. But after the souper every gentleman 
would withdraw with the fair one of his choice into her room. 

Such houses catered only to the public of means. But poverty 
was widespread and had to buy its joys cheaply; and in the country 
too they did without any veneer. The same Castelli relates that at 
Dijon little boys between seven and fourteen would act as panders. 
Every one praised his wares to the traveller and sought to underbid 
his competitor. 

In such circumstances there was naturally no lack of secret 
subterranean literature. The old and well-known erotica con- 
tinued to be published and there were always new and eager pur- 
chasers. One moral advance can be noted during the revolutionary 
period. This merchandise was no longer sold so openly; ever since 
1815 the police kept surveillance over dealers in these products. 
A most interesting sidelight as to how the distribution was effected 
is given us by the same Castelli who was an eye witness of so many 
erotic scenes. "At the Palais Royal I was frequently amused by 
an old fat rascal who stood right at the entrance, with many large 
and small books resting on his head, reposing under his arms, and 
stuck into his pockets, bosom and even boots. He looked like a 
walking bookstall. And how curiously he hawked his wares. All 
that he could offer for sale publicly, he shouted in a penetrating 
raucous voice, and all that pertained to the prohibited articles, he 
whispered quietly into the ears of passersby." 

The restoration received a difficult inheritance indeed, and it 
was necessary to sweep clean with an iron broom. Napoleon would 
not have a nominal censorship but actually it was practised; and 
after his downfall it was again officially instituted. But it was ex- 
tremely difficult to force the disappearance of these erotica which 


flooded the market and were available at every stall. The authors 
were not to be reached since they had taken refuge in other lands 
during the political storm. Hence it was decided to dam up the 
circulation of the anti-religious and erotic writings at the con- 
sumer's end. In 1825 the government issued an order to all police 
inspectors laying down the general procedure for the suppression 
of this corrupt and corrupting reading matter. But alas! the success 
of these manoeuvres was contrary to original expectations, as is 
evidenced by the continuous confiscations and litigations in which 
long prison and money sentences were imposed upon the guilty. 
There could not be any thoroughgoing success in these endeavors 
if only for the reason that all the wheels of the organization did not 
click together. Thus, the dealers and publishers in order to forestall 
objections, might obtain a permit direct from the minister to publish 
a certain somewhat free but valuable work of literature; but the 
courts would reverse the decision and condemn the book anew 
when public opinion demanded the suppression of such writings. 
These prosecutions frequently fell to the lot of books which belong 
to the best type of erotic French literature, as La Fontaine's tales, 
for example. 

In the first third of the nineteenth century there came into 
fashion the transparent obscene cards which, for the poorer public, 
was a substitute for erotic literature, since the latter had become 
costly as a result of the suppression. On one side of the card one 
saw only a smooth surface, and the obscenity of the representation 
only became visible when the card was held up to bright light, 
as to a burning lamp. Booksellers didn't bother as much with these 
smutty articles as did pedlers, which indeed is almost as true today 
in Paris. 

Now people began to look back with admiration and yearning 
to the great love artists, masculine and feminine, of bygone times. 


Hence there was a great market for the memoirs of such person- 
alities, which were now proHferated in immense quantities. Now 
the panurgics of famous Hbertines hke the Duke of Lauzun were 
reprinted, or entirely new books were issued to satisfy the hunger 
for these piquanteries. Some versifiers seized upon the old idea of 
working up the lives of the hetairai in poetical fashion. Thus Ninon 
de Lenclos, Marquise de Montespan, and Sophie Arnould were 
some of the subjects chosen for these poetized autobiographies. 
But there was a type of writing much more popular at this time, 
the so-called secret memoirs which usually appeared anonymously 
under fictitious names, since the contents were very definitely 
objectionable. To a considerable extent these memoirs of piquant 
details derived from the private lives of the French kings, from the 
families of Orleans, of the queen Hortense and the royal family, 
the Duke of Normandy, son of Louis xvi, etc. The authorities 
took drastic measures against these writings, and many, which were 
issued with impunity in German translations, brought their pub- 
lishers in France long prison terms or high monetary penalties. 

There were enough novels appearing at this time in addition to 
the types just mentioned. Perhaps one of the most popular was 
Madame Potiphar. In this story Pompadour is the heroine of the 
title; and the author depicts the amorous adventures of an ambitious 
solicitor with two nuns. Because the book contains about sixteen 
free situations it was confiscated. The same fate was shared by 
others. Nor was France poor in collections of erotic songs. These 
went the whole hog and chattered volubly and unconcernedly 
about everything connected with sex, hesitating at nothing at all. 
Hence we cannot be surprised that many of them were confiscated, 
and those responsible, severely punished. Thus, in 1844 a hawker 
who had sold the So?igster of the Daughters of Love was sentenced 
to pay 6,000 francs and in addition to serve five years in jail. This 


collection contained forty-five chanso?is of Beranger in addition 
to Piron's Ode to Priapiis, and was tame in comparison with others. 
Much filthier are the collections like the Broad Songs of Priapiis or 
the Satirical Parnassus of the nineteenth century, which in ob- 
scenity rival the most lascivious products of the eighteenth century. 

We have already mentioned that memoirs were directed against 
the royal families no less than against other humans. The typical 
Frenchman is not excessively oppressed by feelings of awful re- 
spect. Many dozens of scandalosa could be mentioned here, but 
we shall give only one specific illustration. That Napoleon i was 
no paragon of virtue, needs no exposition to the student of history. 
He had his recognized mistresses, and gladly strayed to foreign 
pastures to boot. But a much more welcome butt for erotic jests 
was found later in the person of his namesake. Napoleon in, and 
his marriage to the fiery Spaniard Eugenie de Montijo. The chau- 
vinistic French people turned up their noses at this mesalliance, 
much as their grandfathers had done when Louis xvi had brought 
the Austrian Marie Antoinette home with him. But the broad sa- 
tiric verses of this time which were quickly and continually being 
born, also disappeared quickly, and were not filled with that drivel- 
ling hate which made so many cognate effusions of the eighteenth 
century so unpalatable. An example is the Wife of desar, a biog- 
raphy of Eugenie de Montijo, Queen of France, by Mme. U. R. 
(M. de S.). These initials were designed to give the impression that 
Madame Urbain Rattazzi (Marie de Solins) was the author of 
this pamphlet. However, it was soon discovered that a certain 
Vesinier was the author, whereupon he was sentenced to eighteen 
months of jail, and i,ooo francs fine. This book tells the supposed 
loves of Eugenie with three princes of the house of Orleans, Gen- 
eral Navarez, Rothschild, etc. 

After the Franco-Prussian War, Paris was inundated by the so- 


called Bodinguettes, which were printed in just a few sheets, in 
all formats, and occasionally with illustrations. They were charac- 
terized by the grossest license and displayed none of that customary 
Gallic grace and gallantry. Even the famous opponent of Napoleon, 
Henri Rochefort, also contributed to this fad. After the destruction 
of the Commune, the restored government went at these foul 
things hammer and tong, and it succeeded in checking the abuse. 
In the preceding century, the clergy was continually being rep- 
resented as "loving", and tons of rubbish had been emptied out of 
pots over the heads of the unfortunate servants of the church who 
had sunk quite low, it must be admitted. The revolution deprived 
many of them of their privileges, displaced them from the center of 
interest and the restoration appointed them to a very modest place 
indeed. Hence the number of pamphlets directed against them 
at this time did not compare with the swarm of the earlier period. 
Most of these scandal stories were written in the form of love 
stories. The Child of a Jesuit by Laumer (1822) described the im- 
moral life of a Jesuit's pupil, rich in licentious and shameful deeds, 
until his sentence to the gallows. Other stories like The Woman of 
the Jesuit (1826) and the Mysteries of a Bishopric (1872) contain 
vigorous attacks lit with glowing sensuaHty against the church 
and its servitors. Two books sought to give actual source materials 
for a history of the infamies of the church and the clergy, erotic 
and otherwise, and thus to have an educative influence; they were 
Crimes^ Delinquencies and Scandals in the Bosom of the Church, 
by Villeneuve and Casenade (1861), and Morals of Convents, Ab- 
beys, and Monasteries (1843). The broad descriptions of intimate 
scenes and the ostensible generalizations, rendered the latter work 
. objectionable; and it soon became the object of continuous re- 
prints and suppressions. 

In our times we have experienced a tremendous growth of Sex- 


ology, the science of sex. In the nineteenth century we can see 
the beginnings of the application of the scientific all-conquering 
viewpoint and method to the study of this most important realm, 
and the compilation of the first fruits of this method as garnered in 
various introductory researches. The first place should be assigned 
to a book of Jacques-Antoine Dulaure (1805) in which he treats 
of phallic worship under the title: The Gods of Generatioji, the 
first English translation of which has recently appeared in the 
United States. Like Dupuis before him, Dulaure derives the phallic 
cult from solar worship; but he gives an excellent description of 
the ceremonies among the Egyptians, Syrians, Jews, Phoenicians, 
Phrygians, Persians, and Assyrians. In addition, he presents a de- 
tailed exposition of lingam worship among the Hindus, treats brief- 
ly of the related cult among the Mexicans, and then, turning to 
the Greeks and Romans, he considers the cult of Venus in relation 
to phallic worship. After considering these rites among the early 
European peoples, he gives a highly interesting and instructive ac- 
count of this worship among the medieval Christians who in cer- 
tain respects surpassed the immoral orgies of antiquity. 

The noted bibliophile Paul Lacroix composed his complete His- 
tory of Prostitution in 185 1-3. This is the first comprehensive work 
written on this important subject, and it remained decisive until 
the appearance of Bloch's monumental work. Unfortunately, it 
remained a torso, for Lacroix, weary of perpetual legal persecu- 
tions, lost all desire to complete his task. One seeks in vain for 
sources or exact quotations of contemporary material, so that 
scientific verification is extremely difficult and the usefulness of 
the work is thereby impaired. Despite the subject matter there isn't 
a loose allusion in the book. Quite on the contrary, so often do angry 
protests occur, that one gains the impression that the author was 
a prudish moralist; but other scientific writings by Lacroix prove 


that he had a fine understanding of erotic and pornographic Htera- 

The literature of popularization also found many representatives. 
Among the numerous guides for lovers there should be men- 
tioned the Physiology of the First Night of Marriage by Octave 
de Saint-Ernest (1842). Warnings against venereal disease were 
sounded by the Protector against the Disease of Venus of Rubempre 
(1826) and the very widely known treatise of the physician 
Tardieu, Medico-Legal Moral Offences. 

There were any number of writers who saw to it that those 
who derived pleasure from reading books on sex should not go 
unappeased. In 1870 Jean Richepin issued his poetry collection 
La Chanson de Gucux. The eroticism of these songs, however 
extreme, is just gibed with the taste of the time, and in a month 
the first edition was exhausted. Richepin paid for his success by 
spending the next month in jail. It is unfortunate that such a gifted 
writer did not turn his talents to better tasks. 

Paul de Kock (i 794-1 871) found numerous readers for his ri- 
bald stories of sex sins in modern French society which he crammed 
into his fifty-five volumes. His namesake Henry did not lag far 
behind in lasciviousness. He sought to gain the favor of his readers 
with his saucy, scandalous work. History of Celebrated Libertines 
(1870), and wrote numerous other risque stories. The best known is 
The Murder in the Chestnut Forest^ in which the bloodthirsty and 
lubric achieve a unique amalgam. 

The foremost representative of the gallant novel in the last quar- 
ter of the nineteenth century and the cleverest, was indisputably 
Marcel Prevost. In most of his works he depicted the intimate 
relations between men and women with rare magic of language 
and a wonderful comprehension of the physiological and psycho- 


logical motives behind them. His pictures are almost oppressive 
in their fidelity to truth. 

The importance of these and other unnamed writers lies in their 
natural representation of contemporary circumstances which they 
portray without disguise. In the third empire the cocotte again 
came to power and set her seal upon French life. She drew every- 
thing under her sway and dictated all laws. The morality of the 
cocotte was decisive in all realms of sexual morality. The spirit 
of the cocotte dictated the mode, and controlled the forms of 
expression in the realm of the spirit and of language. Of course, 
her field of action has always been in the domain of sexuality, and 
she remains true to her own class when she reduces all relations 
to the common denominator of her coarse taste. With her polyp- 
like arms she tears everything to herself with irresistible force, 
and the victims who can no longer envisage redemption from her 
embraces, finally surrender completely to her with body and soul 
and deem themselves fortunate when they are permitted to sing 
the praises of their mistress. In an age when the cocotte is supreme, 
there can be no more inward cult than that of the female body, 
no theme of conversation more important than the description of 
adventures and chances in the service of Venus. There could be 
no greater praise for a woman than when her praises were sung 
in everyone's mouth. 

The real beginning of the supremacy of the prostitute in litera- 
ture and drama began in 1 840 with the Lady of the Camelias by 
Dumas jils. A strumpet falls in love with a young man of distin- 
guished family who is naturally not in agreement with his choice. 
After his family remonstrates with her by appealing to her love 
for him and pointing out the dire consequences of such a union, 
she decides to give him up. She pretends to her betrothed that she 
really loves another, leaves him, and finally dies of tuberculosis. 


The question that immediately occurs to us is this: Are the 
characters of prostitutes and such, capable of poetic or dramatic 
development at all? The answer would seem to be an affirmative 
one. A false step or a breach of marital fidelity very frequently 
has consequences of a tragic nature. Surely no one will be intol- 
erant enough to insist that one error is enough to seal the fate of 
a woman and to be taken as the index of her worth. Sin demands 
repentance, and this is found sufficiently in regret and sorrow. 
Such regret is an inward process, a protracted psychological pro- 
cess, and presupposes lengthy analysis of changing impulses and 
reactions. This is difficult to achieve within the narrow limits of 
a drama, destined for representation on the stage, and which must 
reckon with the relatively short time available for its production. 
The problem thus posed would seem to be much more amenable 
to epic, than dramatic treatment. 

But the nineteenth century French dramatists did not aim at 
creating a logically constructed theatrical piece corresponding to 
the laws of internal probability; for in their plays of adultery it is 
not the results of waywardness that are represented.. Not at all. 
This situation is used in all possible piquant permutations and com- 
binations in order to amuse the public for the greater enrichment of 
the author's purse. The French believe thatdt is permissible in the 
theatre to live somewhat in the fashion of the demi-monde, to 
violate the marriage vow, if only the dramatist and public can get 
a satisfactory ending for the whole mess. 

If one asks why these pieces of adultery, with their undressing 
scenes, became so enormously popular, the answer is not difficult 
to find. Nineteenth century life was exciting and nerve-wracking 
in its mad pursuit of success, and in most people it helped to de- 
stroy the normal uses of composure. The average Frenchman, of an 
evening, sought in the theatre refreshment and entertainment. He 


respected esprit, and if the dialogue was witty and interspersed 
with erotic allusions, the author or dramatist had fulfilled his duty 
and deserved approbation. 

The material of these comic writers and dramatists were usually 
taken from life. Venal love is found among men and women alike. 
Thus Poritzky relates that many of the poor students in Paris were 
able to keep their heads above water only because they were 
erotically potent. TTie demand, by insatiable licentious women, 
was very great. Students whom nature had especially favored 
were ardently desired and besought — and well recompensed for 
their labor. 

The novel stood on the same low plane with the theatre during 
the third kingdom. The ordinary feuilleton story prettified vice 
and fitted it out with all the splendor of romance. The adulterous 
woman was an angel, the courtesan always a delightful creature, 
and her profession a fascinating fault. Lovers and seducers were 
always handsome, generous, extremely masculine, irresistible. The 
deceived husbands on the other hand were always ill-mannered, 
dumb or simply ridiculous. And every intrigue trailed a cloud of 
musk and rice powder. Intimacies! That was the shibboleth of 
the novel and the theatre alike. In their diary, the brothers Gon- 
court have an entry under February 14, 1866, in which they quote/ 
a dictum of Dumas the elder. "What do you wish," he called out, 
"when you can only make money in the theatre by making girls' 
tights rip. These constantly ripping tights made the fortune of 
Directeur Holstein. He ordered his dancers to wear tights that 
had a ripped seam, always on the same spot. Those were the days 
for opera glasses. But finally the censor interfered and with his 
interference, most dealers in opera glasses went out of business." 

Two citations may be adduced here to characterize the morality 
of that period. In the excellent novel drawn from life by a German 


author, and entitled the Tale of a Clerk, we find the following-f 
statement: "Lucian deeply enjoyed this lounging in Paris, utterly 
idle, purely a spectator, and was richer in pleasures than he had 
been five days before. In Montmartre he had become acquainted 
with the caverns of luxurious vice; with orgies which left one cold 
because they were ordered and paid for, and did not proceed from 
genuine emotion but were enacted by actors and actresses; naked 
dancing and living illustrations of Aretino's sonnets and the dia- 
logues of Luisa Sigea, and scenes from the life of The Philosophical 
Theresa and the Marquise of Montrevers. Now Lucian learnt what 
real vice was, and it is so cheap in Paris, He came to opium dives 
and to lascivious balls in the quarter of St. Michel, in the atelier 
region of Montparnasse. He visited the Roman baths where amid 
clouds of steam there were arranged the erotic figures found on 
Greek pottery and vases, where the invention of Nero did not 
appear at all shameful in this Olympian atmosphere, in the circle 
of enraptured spectators, but rather beautiful, since it was handsome 
youths who were acting out the pantomime." 

It will very likely be objected that this is only a novel in which 
no limits are fixed to the author's fantasy. But in real life however 
there are bounds set to profligacy. Yet this captatio benevolentice 
is here being employed on an unworthy cause. Let us hear what 
an author like Alexander Moszkowski says, who speaks out of his 
own experience and who is wholly reliable: "A flood of nudity 
inundated the whole of Paris. With the exception of the Elite 
theatre which found a natural dike in its fixed repertoire, no stage 
was able to withstand the wild flood, and other show places grew 
up like mushrooms which varied the theme of nakedness either 
stupidly or wittily, as the case may be. In the Horloge Theatre 
on the damps Elysees, Prevost's Half Virgins was enacted in trav- 
estied society scenes. The young ladies of this piece were dressed 


very correctly in front, but when they turned their backs they 
revealed a wide split extending from the neck to the calves, so that 
every half virgin could be either an elegant lady of the salon, or 
a Venus Kallipygos, depending on her position. The Olympia The- 
atre in the Boulevard acted out a pantomimic drama which rep- 
resented all the phases of a bridal night with painful accuracy. 
In Paris it was no longer worth the trouble of mobilizing the censor 
and the police against the living enactment of these details. 

"In the Cigale, an attractive suburban temple of the nude muse, 
nakedness overflowed to the other side of the footlights among 
the spectators. After there was no more clothing left for the actors 
to take off, the orchestra leader and musicians began to remove 
everything dispensable, and soon the public began to participate 
in the orgy of disrobing. In many establishments of the Pigalle 
district this stark nakedness took on allegorical forms. The seven 
deadly sins or the cardinal virtues were shown as animated moving 
pictures without any subterfuges of tights; and the effect was 
heightened by the introduction of optical aids, especially mirror 
reflections which still left something to guess about, even when 
one saw everything clearly with one's eyes. In addition there were 
parties which did not differ in any way from the scenes represented 
in the erotic theatres of the revolutionary period. The way was led 
by the artists' guild of Montmartre with its sensational arrange- 
ments of the Bal des quatrez-arts and the Bal du Courier which 
were carried on in the wide spaces of the Moulin Rouge. These 
balls were under the dictatorship of a strictly enforced regulation 
concerning costume which was constantly changed, sometimes 
ancient Greek or Oriental or Renaissance, etc. Everyone had to 
come before a whole set of authorities who would pass on the 
authenticity and correctness of one's costume before one could 
be admitted. Any one who was unfortunate enough to wear a 


costume not absolutely in keeping with the decreed style was kept 
out. Until midnight the festivities were a delight to the eyes, with 
its recreation of a past epoch. Everything was utterly decorous, 
and not a gesture or allusion would betray the real purpose of 
the ball. Then a single woman would suddenly appear in the gal- 
lery, bathed in a flood of light. This one was the bearer of good 
tidings and the living semaphore of the festivities. With one little 
tug her dress fell from her and this was the signal; in a moment 
every woman had cast off her every bit of covering. Clothes were 
now off and flesh was on. With clothes hurled off, shame was 
exorcised and wild passionate orgies were now begun. The chron- 
icler deems it necessary to draw the curtain on the herd exhibits 
of these scenes worse than bestiality." 

But these were private performances. What was the situation 
with regard to those in public? Zola protested indignantly against 
the applause which would always greet one of these so-called act- 
resses whenever she would emphasize some obscene expression 
by some bodily motion or contortion. "What a disgrace! " he ex- 
claimed, "on the day when some woman will come to the exalted 
idea of playing the whore au naturel. All Paris will be beside itself 
with enthusiasm. And how can it be otherwise? We have fallen 
into shame and ignominy, we are the bastard offspring of an 
accursed age. We have only got so far as revealing the breasts, 
and showing the thighs, but we shall certainly fall into the gutter 
unless we arouse ourselves and become free men." 

Zola's call died unheard. Marcel Prevost shows us with inexorable 
sharpness the utterly immoral life of his time and nation, and the 
reflected image is anything but pleasing. An example of the worst 
moral dissoluteness combined with corporeal intactness, i.e., hy- 
meneal imperf oration, is given in the Half Virgins. Here everything 
is permitted the educated girl of the better classes provided only 



that she enters marriage with an unimpaired maidenhead. It is per- 
fectly evident that under such circumstances a morally pure mar- 
riage is impossible, as well as that this type of parent cannot be 
a model for her children. 

Most of the works of the other writers of entertainment litera- 
ture touch the borders of the pornographic. One of these deserves 
brief notice, he who wrote under the pseudonym of Willy. His 
real name was Henry Gauthier-Villars and he never wrote about 
anything other than sex life, of which he treated all the possible 
forms of adultery and perversion. The representation and choice 
of language is so unrestrained that he is only one little step from 
the morass of pornography. His writings are dangerous because 
of their gracious and vivid depictions which say almost everything 
in half-concealed word-plays, or at least manage to hint at every- 
thing so that no doubts are left. The reader's imagination is com- 
pelled to collaborate and to spin further the thought begun by the 
author. Willy draws his sexual pictures with naturalness, but he 
is far inferior to Zola in objectivity. 

Paris still remains the model city of Venus vulghaga, and only 
Brussels offers really serious competition. The stranger just come 
to Babylon on the Seine generally seeks erotic pleasures. Very early 
therefore there were to be found printed directories of guides to I 
women's flesh marts. These brothel directories were already in 
vogue during the eighteenth century and, as an example, one may 
be cited. It bears the remarkable title Funeral Oration of the very 
High and Mighty Mme. Justine ( 1 786) ; it is said to have had a very 
prominent personage as its author. In the nineteenth century, as 
population grew and means of transportation brought more visitors 
to the great capital of pleasure, these directories became more/ 
numerous and obtrusive. In every little bookshop and dance hall | 
these Guides to the Stranger in Paris were sold, either as collections 


of obscene pictures, or more usually as printed manuals to the plea- 
sure-seeking provincial or stranger. The address of the brothel and the 
jades, their prices, and the catalogue of their sexual practices and 
perversities were described with breath-taking frankness and ex- 
haustive detail. One of these manuals bore the amusing title: Les 
cocottes, biches et lorettes. Naturally such guides had only a short 
lease of life for they soon were out of date or were rapidly con- 
fiscated. Nevertheless, this was a very profitable business for the 
unscrupulous individuals who engaged in it, as we can judge from 
the enormous number of these guides. 

The horrible mixture of cruelty and passion, so peculiar to Mar- 
quis de Sade, as well as the predilection for philosophical excursions 
in defence of his perversities, did not remain without influence in 
the nineteenth century. A work was published about 1830 which 
was so full of the spirit of Sade that for a while it was attributed to 
the latter. Only a careful examination reveals that the book could 
not have been written in 1 803, as the title page declares, since it deals 
with characters who lived under Louis-Philippe. The book is The 
Dominican. At that time, too, a mass of obscene political pamphlets 
was thrown upon the market. My Cousin Matthew by Rabau is 
one of the most important of this class. Another is The Pranks of 
the High Ladies, containing a wealth of gossip and scandals con- 
cerning actresses and well-known society women. 

The first important erotic type character who bobbed up about 
1830 was that of Mayeux by Travies. He is the born cynic, practi- 
cally always erotic if not directly obscene. His bodily malformation 
made him desirable only to insatiable women, who knew how to 
appreciate his extraordinary potency. Hence quite apart from his 
pictorial representation, he figures as the panurgic hero of erotic 
novels, such as The Secret Loves of Mayeux; The Twelve Labors 
of Hercules; The Twelve (erotic) Days' Work; etc. 


Louis Protat was the author of the notorious and grotesque erotic 
tale Serrefesse. Some notion of its contents may be gained from 
inspecting the characters. Pinecul, whoremonger and thief; Cuil- 
lardin, chief sewer cleaner; Cruche, supposedly a eunuch, seller 
of condoms; Pinolie, Cruche's wife; and Serrefesse. The whole 
plot hinges on the fact that Cuillardin had raped Serrefesse and 
after she has shot herself, her betrayer is put out of the way by 
Cruche and his gang. The language is foul though there are traces 
of wit in the volume. Another book of Protat's, The Examination .- 
of Flora, eclipses all its contemporaries both in erotic license and, 
in this one case, in literary value as well. 

A few more of erotic writers in the last quarter of the nineteenth 
century must be mentioned. Le Nismois wrote many pieces, mostly 
for the theatre but no director in the world would be found to 
produce any of his works. One of the most fruitful French erotic , 
writers is the pornographer who hid himself behind the initials : 
E. D. This Dumoulin had a certain amount of literary skill. He 
was a flagellant, but was also able to appreciate other types of sex 
activity, for orgies of natural indulgence are plentifully littered 
throughout his books. Some of the titles: Procession of the Bare, 
Buttocks, Turned-Up Skirts, Schoolmistress, indicate sufficiently! 
the type of porneia that they contain. He is the foremost rep- 
resentative of flagellational eroticism. In the last named novel, the 
adventures are related with honesty and a luxuriousness of detail 
which argues for personal knowledge and participation. There are 
also numerous tribadic scenes in this girls' school. In The Animated 
Marble he treats a variant of the Pygmalion and Galatea theme. 
The hero of the romance enkindles passion in the living but marble- 
cold statue of a princess. In numerous other books the author never 
forgets to indicate that he is also the author of other smut. 
The best tribadic novel of the time undoubtedly was A Summer 


in the Country ( 1 868), long attributed to Gustave Droz, who never- 
theless was able to obtain the legal right to have his name removed 
from the title page. This novel contains the correspondence of two 
young ladies, a governess and her former pupil, who inform each 
other of the emotions rising in their young souls, of their erotic 
observations and experiences, and finally their first introductions 
to love. 




THERE has been but one great age of erotic literature in France, 
namely the eighteenth. No previous period, nor any subse- 
quent one, can be compared to those halcyon days of the seventeen 
hundreds. Nevertheless we shall find some great writers in this 
field during the nineteenth century, men who made signal con- 
tributions to the understanding of erotic problems and their rep- 
resentation in letters. 

The first great name to be considered is Honore de Balzac ( 1 799- 
1850). In his Droll Stories, he endeavored to revive the fresh sensu- 
ality of the old fabliaux and the roughness of Rabelais in modern 
combination. In the language of the old French he tells stories of 
the most suggestive sort after the manner of the Italian novelists, 
and perpetrates many a jolly jest on the way. The work contains 
thirty-six stories, each one gayer than the preceding, and all going 
as far as possible in daring and suggestiveness. Who can refrain 
from laughter at the monk Amader who possesses the best instru- 
ment for winning the suit of the abbey? Or who will not be amused 
at the cuckold who can no longer recognize a certain thing? The 
panurgics of the good king Louis xi really belong to the realm of 
scatology. The king arranges a peculiar sort of entertainment. At 
the instigation of his paramour he mixes a purgative with the food 
and when the effects begin to show themselves he hinders every 


one from visiting the toilet. The resultant scenes are of oversvhelm- 
ing comedy. 

In poetry there was a bard who stood out considerably above 
the remainder of contemporary singers both because of the contents 
and the influence of his work. Beranger (1780-1857) was the real 
creator of the French chanson, and is still today famed as the 
national poet. He sang for the people and captured their native 
notes as perhaps no other. The singing quality of his songs captivated 
all hearts. He knew how to live himself into the soul of those who 
were tried and rejected by fate, and this capacity of sympathy 
and understanding won him the affection of all. Curiously enough, 
Beranger is almost as great in political satire as in simple songs. But 
his chief strength lies in his erotic chanson. He does not represent 
the overwhelming passion, or sentimental love; he knows only the 
dalliance with love which he celebrates and decorates with true 
gallic wit and jest. One must laugh at the worthy philistine who 
boasts of the transparent friendship of the senator; or at the epitha- 
lamion to the lovers who have been living out of wedlock for the 
past twenty years. By the side of these there are the glorifications 
of adultery, of carnal lust, of the carpe diem, which has sometimes 
a depressing and even harmful eff^ect. Everything occurs cheek by 
jowl in these collections. The moving farewell of Mary Stuart 
near a bawdy street song, and a song of King Yvetot near that 
of an uncontrolled grisette. 

In addition to these songs, which all too often violate the dictates 
of good taste, Beranger composed poems entirely in the demesne 
of powerful eroticism, which are, to be sure, not found in the 
official collections. They were first published in 1815 under the 
title: Songs, Moral and Otherwise; when the edition was reprinted 
a few years later, it was confiscated. Beranger was sentenced to 
pay 50 francs and spend three months in jail for insulting morality 



and religion. In 1832, all these obscene songs introduced by Piron's 
Ode to Priapus and a few miscellaneous pieces were published in 
the previously mentioned Le Chansonnier des filles d'' amour. Two 
years later a complete edition of Beranger's work was issued in 
four volumes; a fifth volume containing all the erotic poetry was 
printed secretly, but was confiscated in the same year. Thirty years 
later these forty-four pieces were issued under the title, The Gay- 
eties of Beranger, and this constitutes the most complete collection. 

If the field of erotic literature was relatively sterile at this time, 
the realm of art was very fertile and French erotic art continued / 
to lead the world. From the year 1825 France was mistress of the! 
market of erotic pictures, and it still remains the chief producer. 
The artists Bouchot, Poitevin, Deveria, Maurin, Gavami, Johannot 
and Monnier were in their heyday and at their maximum produc- 
tivity. Only Portevin and Monnier had any breath of greatness 
in their work, especially the Diablerie series of the former which 
are to be accounted as among the boldest, most fantastic and per- 
haps the most memorable productions in all erotic painting. Johan- 
not and Monnier, on the other hand, are merely the vicious, cynical 
depicters of lower middle-class salacity. The same is true of Gavar- 
ni's erotic lithographs. Bouchot again has something that reminds 
us of Poitevin. 

What some of the others lacked in greatness they made up in 
quantity. Maurin and Deveria were virtually inexhaustible in their 
production of lithographs which they brought to the market in 
series. These tw^o and others of their ilk, glorified obscenity with- 
out manifesting any trace of a higher idea. Although they gave 
themselves out for anti-philistines, everything they produced lacks j/ 
any idealization of sensuality. The representation of the sexual • 
act in hundreds of variations was their chief theme, and only at 
their very best do they show an occasional gracefulness or refinement 


in their tasks. They are the most enthusiastic eulogists of the 
mechanics of love, and they can suggest nothing more than the 
physical delights which masculine potency brings to the woman, 
, and which female wantonness and sophistication afford the man. 

In fine, it is a glowing cult of the individual erotic charms of the 
female body. Numerous gallant lithographs that appeared publicly 
I in the 30's of the last century were obscenely varied and touched 
up for those who liked their eroticism undiluted. With the spread 
of photography, this flood reached its ebb, and a new period of 
activity began. 

One of these artists was also by way of being an author. Indeed, 
Henry Monnier (1799-1875) was also an actor of repute. When he 
was still a subordinate official in the ministry of justice, he revealed 
a native gift of observation, a sharp and inexorable eye for idiosyn- 
crasies, the weak and ridiculous features of his environment, which 
he endeavored to perpetuate with his drawing pencil. In 1820 
appeared his little booklet. Administrative Customs; and at the same 
time he created the figure of Joseph Prudhomme, that worthy smug 
bourgeois who has become as much a figure in French literature 
as Moliere's Tartuffe. Soon Monnier was admitted to the circle 
which included Musset, Paul de Koch, Gautier, Gavarni, and he 
gave free reign to his abilities. His erotic compositions were de- 
veloped with swift strokes and were originally composed just for 
his friends, without any thought of publication. When the erotic 
theatre was established on the Rue de la Sante in 1862 he con- 
tributed a small piece entitled The Strumpet and the Student. The 
playlet has no action to speak of. It is a series of love scenes be- 
tween the two characters, punctuated by quarrels and reconcilia- 
tions, but the charm of the writing and the capricious wit are what 
give it power. Here is an example, 
i The student is sitting alone and reading a letter. "Tuesday at 


noon I shall come to you rather earlier than later. Love me always 
as I love you. Be clever and understanding but not too wanton. 
If you wish, we shall kick over the traces a bit." (He speaks: "It 
is 1 1: 10. She will not come.") Reading again: "Tuesday at noon") 
(To himself: "She surely won't be late. I will arrange the seat.") 
11:30. He reads again: "I shall come rather earlier than later." 
A knock is heard: "Who is there?" 

A light voice: "I." 

The student pretends not to recognize: "Who is T? Is that you?" 

"Yes, of course, it's me." 

He opens the door, the grisette enters red as a beet. (Remember, 
it's six flights up) . "Good day, my little pup. How goes it? My lord, 
you live high up. I'm all out of breath. And your housekeeper, 
below — what a bitch she is! She asked me again and again whom 
I wanted. You understand? She made me repeat it many times 
over in order that I might become worried. I despise these damned 
female tricks. Don't I get a kiss? Let me remove my hat first." 

The student, ready: "Come here my angel." 

The entertainment grows more exciting, passionate, and finally 
winds up in groans and snorts. The grisette pants: "Oh, how won- 
derful you love! Kill me! ... oh, kill me! " 

Whereupon a deep bass voice from the adjoining room booms 
out warningly: "No murder in this house, please." But this does 
not disturb the lovers and they continue their activities undisturbed. 

Monnier has another little work. The Lesbians, which can be y 
compared to Crebillon in its supple narrative skill. Two women 
of Paris, young, handsome, elegant, pleasure seeking, visit a mutual 
friend in the latter's country home. The two visitors who have 
never met before, are given a bedroom in common. At first the con- 
versation flows in quite conventional channels. They chatter about 
social events, about their husbands. Both feel themselves misunder- 


stood. Each flatters the other, and makes pretty Httle speeches to 
the other. Their speech becomes freer and more intimate. They 
draw closer to each other in the wide double bed, and gradually 
each attempts certain tender manipulations which the other recip- 
rocates. The talk becomes more ardent and more intense, and their 
digitation more ecstatic, until both give themselves over to their 
desires. The charm of the work lies in its manner of treatment, in 
the witty and clever wantonness which never forgets the canons 
of good taste. 



IT WAS with perfect consummate planning, and cleverness that 
Louis Napoleon was able to maneuver his election to the presi- 
dency of the French Republic in 1 849. His term of ofRce was to be 
only four years but already there were a sufficient number of 
signs to indicate that he intended to remain in the saddle very much 
longer. When his efforts in this direction became too obvious he 
dealt a coup d'etat and in 1859 he dissolved the Assembly, sent 
sixty of the hostile delegates into exile, and caused the arrest of 
about 26,000 malcontents. But this brutal exercise of force did 
not guarantee any sort of safety or certainty. There were many 
attempts on his life which showed how great the disaffection of 
the people really was. From the very start he had numerous pow- 
erful enemies, chiefly the great horde of Orleanists who had rep- 
resentatives in commerce, in officialdom and among the bourgeoisie. 
Here were such men as Thiers, Guizot, Remusat and others. Then 
there was the party of legitimists of the Faubourg St. Germain, 
descendants of the ancien regime with numerous connections 
throughout France. This party possessed but few capable brains 
and practically their only weapon was gossip but this they knew 
how to use masterfully. The whole mass of scandalous stories circu- 
lated at this time concerning the emperor and his spouse, the 
beautiful Spaniard, Eugenie, springs from this source. And al- 
though most of them bear the stamp of falsehood their importance 


must not be underestimated. They knew well how to uncover 
the nakedness of the emperor so skillfully that their fictions a- 
chieved the semblance of verity. 

Even more than in the gallant period the prostitute now ruled. She 
played the first fiddle in life, literature, the theatre and the arts, 
and Napoleon himself bore the blame for this state of affairs. The 
coup d'etat had pressed the clamp down on the press. Any one who 
now wished to found a new newspaper had to deposit a security 
of 50,000 francs, which made virtually impossible the growth 
of a press. Misdemeanors of the press were no longer permitted : 
jury hearings but had to be tried before criminal courts and were 
threatened with Draconian penalties. After two warnings a news-,^ 
paper was suspended and after two convictions it was abolished. 
Since the press was gagged and prevented from discussing political 
matters, it turned to realms less dangerous: social satire and scandal, 
financial operations, and journalistic wit. How successful such 
cultivation of new pastures was may be judged from the fact 
that the circulation of the Constitutionel jumped from 3,000 to 
45,00; and Villemessant who edited Figaro after 1854 made his 
paper the favorite of the capital. What did it matter that those 
attacked and libelled in his sheet sought redress in the courts and 
that he had to pay out considerable money in fines? The growing 
popularity of his paper with its consequent financial gain was 
more than enough to balance his losses. 

But once the tiger has licked blood he is insatiable. The public 
naturally fond of gossip and saucy details, took delight in the 
steaming ordure served up to them, and found it difficult to live 
without such slop. In no realm can gossip be as enjoyable as in 
the sexual, and in this respect no class of bourgeoisie society offers 
more material than the half- world. Their whole fife is one chain of 
scandalous episodes. Particularly did the cocottes of the second 



empire offer considerable material. And what a gap separates these 
prostitutes who peddle their flesh from the grisette under Louis 
Philippe! Murger in his La Boheme has represented them as crea- 
tures of lovely frivolity who do not shrink from giving themselves 
as long as they have the illusion of love, however momentary. But 
the cocotte of this time has gone far beyond such considerations. 
When she sells herself she uses her opportunity well and chooses 
only the highest bidder. She is not overburdened with an excess 
of spirit, nor is this what the business men and knights of happi- 
ness seek in her. The only thing of value is her capacity to purvey 
sexual satisfaction. 

Many of these creatures boasted a rare beauty but they did not 
always exercise the greatest fascination. Thus Cora Pearl, one of 
the most famous denizens of the half- world, was actually repulsive, 
what with her coarse features, coachman's voice and vulgar man- 
ners. Yet she had twelve horses in her stall, charged 10,000 francs 
for a night and, it is said, received from a grand duke the gift of 
a massive silver bidet filled with jewels and gold pieces. Exploita- 
tion of their lovers and senseless squandering of money were the 
occupations with which these hussies busied themselves and in- 
stead of repelling men, this unconcealed pursuit of gain drew 
them on. It was a source of popularity to be seen with a strumpet 
and to squander one's money upon her. The Duke of Grammont- 
Caderousse, wasted money and health until he died of tuberculosis. 
Arthur de Lauriston lost everything, and one day ran off to Al- 
giers where he entered the army. Prince Achille Murat shot him- 
self when he was left penniless. Moreover, it was not only the 
Parisians but also foreigners who fell into the nets of these modem 
hetaerae, for Paris had gradually established itself as the Babylon 
of the Seine. Visitors from every land came here to find pleasure 
at all costs, and not infrequently lost their shirts in the process. In 


two or three years Khalil Bey ran through 1 5 millions and returned 
home impoverished. The Princes Narischkin, Paul Demidoff, and 
Lord Hamilton threw money away with open hands though they 
did not exactly employ the method of their contemporary, the mys- 
terious Prince Possos, who amused himself by dropping gold pieces 
upon the heads of the passersby from the balcony of the Maison Doree. 

Although merely tolerated by the state at first, the prostitute ^ 
soon became recognized by society. It was no longer necessary 
for them to crawl in the darkest corners, like pariahs. They could 
now ply their seductive occupations in full publicity, rob the man / 
from his consort, and through him inoculate his family with the 
vice. Soon the most honorable woman assumed the manners of the 
demi-mondaine and sought to emulate her fallen sister's immorality. 
It came to the pass where the boundaries became indistinguishable 
and one could no longer tell cocotte from honorable woman. 

The great world occupied itself only with her. Art and litera- 
ture brought her undisguised praise and the theatre lay at her feet. 
She dominated everything, no matter whether an artist drew a 
mythological divinity; a Phryne, a Leda with the Swan, or what- 
ever other mythological name he immortalized upon the canvas, it is 
always the sensuality incorporated in the cocotte that served to 
inspire him. Journalism too, stood in the service of the demi-monde. ^J 
For an hour of love the fortunate scribbler would sing the praises 
of his love in his sheet; and for similar favors the hopeless mediocre 
creatures of the stage could expect glowing dramatic panegyrics 
upon their deathless art. If this method failed these ladies would 
buy favorable critical notices by counting out good gold. Even 
the famous critic Jules Janin never showed any aversion to a cer- 
tain sort of erotic handclasp, and people knew that after every 
premiere he could enter upon his books between six and eight 
thousand francs from unspecified sources. 


The prostitute made her triumphal entry into literature when 
the younger Dumas brought upon the stage in his Lady of the 
Cajnelias, a prostitute dripping with sentimentality. Through five 
long acts says Vieil-Castel in his notebook, this woman hawks out 
before an educated public all the disgusting details of her prosti- 
tuted life. Nothing is missing in the representation, and scenes are 
borrowed from the most corrupt places. xA.nd this wench with camelias 
is supposed to represent true love, she who accepts alternately the 
embraces of customers and the kisses of her heart's own friend, 
who permits the rich one to pay in order to support the poor one. 
Nor do the other details of her sordid existence improve the picture 
at all, culminating in the apologia for her life, at her grave where 
it is said: "Much will be forgiven her for she has loved much." 
Although this writer designated the exaltation of the strumpet 
as the shame of his age, this drama corresponded so well with the 
instincts of the populace that in a short while it became one of 
the most popular pieces of the Parisian theatre, whence it made 
its way throughout France. In addition, it also created the t)^pe 
which hereafter was to be quite at home on the stage. Soon there 
were many models and copies of this. Barriere's Girl of Marble 
appeared a year later; and Augier wrote The Marriage of Olympia 
in 1855 and Poor Lionesses in 1859. The rudest and crudest sort 
of realism dominated the theatre and the novel and amounted to 
nothing more than a servile copying of the dirtiest patches of life. 
In both fiction and drama the period revelled in the depiction of 
filthy scenes and in the eulogy of vice. 

When prostitutes realized that they occupied the chief interests 
of even serious writers, they themselves came forward as authoresses 
and sought to depict their own experiences. One of the most 
whorish of them created a tremendous stir with her memoirs which 
underwent one edition after another. This was Marguerite Badel, 


called Rigolboche, who was too unlettered to be able to write 
even one sensible sentence. Hence her memoirs were really com- 
posed by two unscupulous writers, Blum and Huart. The same 
circumstances were true of the memoirs of Celeste Vainard, called 
Mogador, who could neither read nor write but none the less de- 
manded the spotlight of literature. People knew all this, knew the 
utter ignorance of this cocotte, but were somehow crazy about 
her lewd confessions. Indeed, her lurid past did not prevent her 
from climbing up the social ladder for she later married Count 
Lionel de Moreton Chabrillan. Similar marriages into the nobility 
were effected by other notorious whores like Rosalie Leon, Mar- 
guerite Bellanger, another known as Madonna, and Paiva who 
captured respectively Prince Peter Wittgenstein, Lord Coulback, 
Prince Soltikoff and Count Henckel von Donnersmarck. Since 
such incredible success attended these daughters of joy, it is no 
wonder that women of society began to copy the loose allurements 
of their weaker sisters in order to try for similar prizes. Boehn 
gives a number of names, for example, that of the lovely Countess 
Castiglione who is said to have received for one night from Lord 
Hertford the sum of one million francs. In Dieppe during 1854, 
the Marquise de Belboeuf and the Countess Gouy competed with 
the cocottes in their scandalous dancing and daring clothes. In 
Paris the ladies looked to the stars of the operettas, Lise Tautain, 
Hortense Schneider, Zulma Bouffar, Blanch d'Antigny and copied 
their clothing and gestures, and made their own the repertoire of 
a Tlieresia, 

A most powerful and masterful delineation of the demoralizing 
influence of the prostitute and the poisoning of public and private 
life through her was given by Emile Zola in his Nana; this effort 
was abetted by the drama of Augier, Injection^ and by Sardou's 
The Family Benoiton. The only goal of the cocotte is money and 


her greed is nourished in the pursuit of unscrupulous transactions. 
Only money offers the key to power and happiness, and hence 
everyone pursues it. France swam in gold and this profusion de- 
veloped a fever of speculation. Everyone desired to multiply his 
possessions quickly and without effort. The newly created stock 
banks, after the model of the brothers Pereire which was founded 
for this purpose in order to finance great enterprises through 
accumulation of small holdings, led to risky enterprises. Commerce 
and business expanded and the income of the middle classes sky- 
rocketed. Napoleon understood very well how to use good sugges- 
tions for the gain of France and particularly of Paris. In 1855 there 
took place in Paris a world fair after the model of the one in 
England which brought over five million visitors to the French 
metropolis. This influx naturally purveyed a very numerous and 
elaborate clientele for prostitutes. The world exposition of 1867 
went it much better with fourteen million visitors who came not 
only for business but also, in good part, for pleasure. The devotees 
of Cimmerian love thus had their hands full, and their purses too, 
for these bulged with gold. The prostitutes swarmed in all streets 
and places of amusement. In full consciousness of their importance 
they pressed ever further into the foreground. 

Soon this rottenness, this disintegrative process of society found 
its analyzers and depictors. But an interesting contradiction is to 
be observed at this point. While the cult of the prostitute was being 
celebrated as never before, the artists who merely copied nature 
saw themselves continually exposed to the chicaneries of police and 
authorities. Flaubert, Edmond de Goncourt, Zola, Maupassant, 
and others, had to practise the most artful wiles in order to avoid 
being all too forcibly reminded of the existence of a harsh censor- 
ship. That was thoroughly logical. When an artist represents the 
morals of his time in his serious work, he should sit in judgment 


upon such conditions. Judges and other officials who had permitted 
themselves to be carried along by the stream of foulness and cor- 
ruption saw themselves represented in their true and quite un- 
flattering light in these writings. In these works those who should 
have been guardians of morality saw themselves accused. Accord- 
ingly the personal animosities of these outraged officials found 
vent in the imposition of indiscriminate punishments upon serious 
writers. On the other hand, pornography, the outright panegyric 
of vice and the real herald of prostitution against which the real 
opposition of justice should have been directed, found wide dis- 
tribution and flowered in gallic profusion. 

Venality — wherever the eye fell. Besides the actual sale and 
purchase of flesh, there was the degradation of spirit and attitude. 
Bribery triumphed over justice which never let her left hand know 
what her right hand was doing; and placed itself squarely on the 
side of the large capital that was defending these foul-smelling 
transactions with brutal cynicism. The press influenced public 
opinion in favor of those who showed themselves most willing to 
pay. For the journalists it was a seductive and profitable business 
to make themselves the unscrupulous organ of speculation on the 
Exchange. Most of the greatest Parisian newspapers were the pos- 
session of the speculators who set the tone, and didn't hesitate a 
moment to expend huge sums when they saw the possibility of 
realizing their aims. The newspapers merely served to draw the 
public into the swindling business of the publishers or the bankers 
who stood behind them. That thousands of well-meaning readers 
had been brought to beggardom by their foolish trusts in the 
honesty of the press, meant nothing to the latter. 

Similarly the jurists were accused of venality and other offi- 
cials as well. Napoleon himself and his family were accused of 
being purchasable for a sufficient price, a charge surely untrue in 


the case of Napoleon himself. But this charge was certainly true 
of his stepson, the Duke de Momy, the first cavalier of his time. 
A certain voracious swindler, the banker Jecker, had lent one and 
a half millions to Mexico and wanted sixty-five millions in return. 
To help this swindler realize his usurious demands, Morny was 
won over to advise Napoleon to go in for the disastrous Mexican 
expedition, which cost Maximilian and his followers their lives, 
and Napoleon a goodly share of his imperial splendor. This he 
sought to counteract through a renewed call to arms against Ger- 
many. Thus indirectly, a swindler was the real cause of Napoleon's 

^96^ ^^X^ e>L^ eSjM C^^t^ ^^^ 



THE second half of the nineteenth century is more fruitful than 
the first regarding the composition of erotica. It is as though 
the erotic imagination had exhausted itself in the period of the 
Enlightenment and the Revolution, and required a long breathing 
space to recruit its constitution; or to vary the metaphor, the much- 
worked field had to lie fallow for almost half a century, or be only 
partially and lightly cultivated, so that in the second half of the 
century energetic and ambitious cultivators might again reap 
plenteous harvest from it. There were a very considerable number 
of writers and only the most important will be considered. We 
will first consider the Symbolist novelists D'Aurevilly and Huys- 
mans. After that we shall cast a glance at Musset, Gautier, Stendhal 
and Hugo. We shall then tarry a moment with Flaubert and his 
school, Maupassant and Zola. And the chapter will close with a 
statement concerning the symbolist poets, Verlaine and Baudelaire. 
The Diaboliques of Barbey d'Aurevilly (1874) still remains 
one of the masterpieces of modern French literature, but it is only 
known in castrated editions. At the time of its appearance it aroused 
great interest and opposition. Aurevilly is a very remarkable writer, 
one of the most powerful representatives of late French roman- 
ticism. His work is characterized by dazzling wit, psychological 
observation, a wonderful flow of talk, and a panurgic joy in the 
coarsely physical, erotically mysterious and perverse. In these 


stories he let himself go all the way. The six tales were so open 
and unvarnished that they could not be distributed, but were 
immediately confiscated because of immorality and blasphemy. 
When Aurevilly was taken to task, he naturally declared that he 
had not wished to profit by the ribaldry of his readers, but that he 
had on the contrary, desired to exert a moral effect. He had de- 
sired to lash vice, he asserted, and had therefore, been compelled 
to remain true to life. His story was believed, but the remaining 
480 copies of his work were none the less confiscated, with his 

It is difficult to transmit the flavor of these devilish stories which 
are fiendish in their cruelty, their horrible ingenuity, in their 
overtones of the demonic world which swathes about us, and of 
which we hear echoes in the ecstasies of sex. When the senses are a- 
fire with sex, we are somehow brought near to the elemental flames 
of the universe, blazing murkily in the primeval chaos and flaring 
with undiminished heat and unmitigated destructiveness beneath 
the thin layer of cosmic, orderly coolness. It is this weird apprehen- 
sion of eternal depths and flames in eternity, and in its tiny cinders, 
which are the children of men, that Aurevilly scores his greatest 
victories. Who can ever forget that monstrous story of that 
beautiful woman of inextinguishable lusts, who burns perpetually 
with the diabolical flame? She is the wife of a general and ac- 
companies him upon his military expeditions and while battles 
are being fought or campaigns planned, she hurls one man after 
another upon her flame. One night she is apprehended in an assigna- 
tion with an old lover who has come with a formal message but 
has remained for an altogether different business. The general 
berates his spouse for her wantonness, and hints that he has heard 
rumors of her incessant and promiscuous venereal practices. Stung 
to fury, she informs him that the child she had born him and which 


had but recently met its death, even that was not the general's, but 
the fruit of her lust with the lover just departed. She informs him 
too that when the child had died she had cut out its heart and kept 
it in a beautiful casket as a perpetual memento. In demoniac rage, 
she now rushes to this casket and hurls her child's heart at the 
general, the supposed father. What a frightful scene! Two partially 
demented figures, a woman charred by many lusts and a man 
blinded by elemental furies, hurling at each other the heart of a 
child! But the end is even more demoniac. The crazed general in 
an orgy of berserker rage beats his wife down with his feet, and 
despite her terrible shrieks, melts wax upon her, burning her to 
death. Thus the hellish fire in her is quenched forever. 

In this connection we should also mention Joris Karl Huysmans. 
In his novel Ld-bas (Down There) he scores the emotional poverty 
of our time and his imagination looks hungrily at the religious and 
Satanic ecstasies of the middle ages. He creates Gilles de Rais, a 
problematic nature who dissatisfied with the even monotony 
of daily life, brings emotional content into his life with murder 
and sexual excesses. There are many crass scenes in this novel 
and Huysmans gives a stark characterization of his hero persecuted 
by erotic spectres, obsessed by satyriasis. "It appeared as though 
nature grew sick in his presence and that his mere proximity 
corrupted her. For the first time he understood the uncleanness of 
the immoble existence of forests, and discovered the priapic festi- 
vals in the life of deep dark woods. Here the tree appeared to him 
as a living being, head down dug into the earth with tufts of its 
roots, feet on high, straddled and branched out onto ever new 
thighs, which are continually opening up and getting smaller the 
further away they are from the stem. Now it appears that another 
bough is rammed in between these legs in an immoble orgiastic 
writhing which is transmitted from branch to branch until the 


very top. There the shaft seems to be a phallus which has become 
erect and which disappears into a skirt of foliage; or on the contrary 
shoots out from a green coat into the over-stuffed abdomen of the 
earth. Images confuse him. In the pale and smooth bark of the 
long-stemmed beech trees, he saw again the skin of boys, alit with 
their parchment-like whiteness. In the black and grooved barks of 
the old oaks he discerned the deeply fissured elephantine skin of 
beggars. At the knots where the branch forked out, little openings 
yawned in which the bark rolled up in ovals, these apertures re- 
minded him of filthy rectums or the small gaping genitals of female 
animals. Everywhere obscene forms arose out of the earth and 
shot up madly toward the heavenly vault. That too became satanic. 
Clouds swell to huge breasts, split into buttocks, swell into immense 
penes, which disseminate their contents in wide showers of milky 
seeds. These all correspond to the sultry revelries of the forest, 
where nothing remains but the images of giant or branched thighs, 
the feminine deltas, the form of the great V, sodomite mouths, 
gaping wounds, moist excretory orifices." 

And here is a later excerpt: "By and large, everything here 
below, runs into the act which you refuse. The heart which has the 
reputation of being the most noble constituent of man, has the 
same form as the penis which is supposed to be a lower organ. And 
it is extremely symbolic, for all love of the heart culminates in that 
organ which resembles it. When the human imagination seeks to 
vitalize artificial creatures, it has to take models from the motions 
of living creatures in the act of procreation. Look at machines, 
at the play of pistons in cylinders; what are these but steel Romeos 
in cast-iron Juliettes, The varieties of human expression are in no 
wise different from the motions of our machines. This is a law 
which one must do homage to, if one is to be neither impotent nor 


What a feeling for nature and a living of oneself into her moods! 
What a contiguity with, and strange comprehension of, apparently 
inorganic matter! And what philosophical absorption in the vague 
mysteries of sexual impulses and instincts even in the domain of 
the non-living. It needs only a development of these thoughts to 
make an eroticon par excellence, but Huysmans' work was strictly 
limited for he was a psychopathic case, with the peculiar visions 
and obsessions characteristic of such types. 


We have already remarked about Alfred de Musset's (1810-1856) 
erotic story, Gamiani, to the effect that while in the company of 
a number of Bohemians, the conversation turned to the inferiority 
of current erotic literature. It was maintained that no one could 
write that sort of work without using obscenities in profuse quanti- 
ties. Musset disputed this and offered to prove the contrary. Three 
days later he read his Gamiani before his friends, a book which 
describes everything without employing a single indecent word. 
A truer explanation of the genesis of this work holds it to be a 
pamphlet directed against Musset's erstwhile mistress, George Sand. 
In 1834 the lovers had undertaken a trip to Venice, where poor 
Musset became sick with brain fever. During his illness Sand is 
said to have been unfaithful to him with a certain Italian, for which 
reason Musset left her. The abandoned woman now began to circu- 
late the report that he was impotent. To revenge this, Musset 
represented Sand as Gamiani, the tribadist. This version of the 
story is also found in the Memoirs of a Singer. But the first one is 
much more likely to be true since the first edition of Ga?mani bears 
the date 1833, one year before the journey to Venice. Not only is 
there a dispute about the real motive for the writing of this novel, 


but a number of distinguished authorities have expressed the doubt 
that Musset was the author of the book, which is absurd. The 
work exhibits all the peculiarities of Musset's style. Secondly, he 
himself showed it off to a number of his friends, and even provided 
lascivious drawings for it. And finally, as long as he lived the book 
was attributed to him, and he never once denied this attribution. 
Through an indiscretion the manuscript fell into the hands of a 
publisher at Brussels who issued it with colored lithographs. Today 
there are countless translations and reprints of the work, one of 
the high spots of French pornographic literature. 

Here is a brief summary of the plot. At a house ball Baron Alcide, 
becoming suspicious of Gamiani, the mistress of the house, dis- 
covers that she is a lesbian. He determines to eavesdrop on her, and 
hides himself in an alcove behind some clothes. Presently Gamiani 
enters with Fanny, a young girl of seventeen. The latter doesn't 
know how to get home in the pouring rain since no coach is in 
sight. Hence she accepts Gamiani's hospitality for the night. The 
latter overcomes Fanny's opposition with flattery and tenderness, 
and proceeds to undress her hastily. When both are completely 
undressed Gamiani can no longer restrain her lust. Her tribadic 
desires break through. Fanny is at first frightened, but at length 
in her sensual excitement surrenders to the fierce manipulations 
of her hostess. Alcide, who has observed everything from his con- 
cealment now springs out and hurls himself on Fanny, despite 
the attack of Gamiani. After he has had his fill, they are reconciled 
amid a lot of erotic playing. Now Gamiani narrates how she has 
come by her abnormal tendencies. As a girl she had been placed 
in a nunnery by her aunt. Once, after a frightful flagellation, all 
the monks had taken their desire of her; and since that time she 
has had an antipathy to men. Then the others tell the stories of 
their earliest love adventures, which motivate the most erotic scenes 


of normal love and abnormal perversions. Finally, Gamiani mixes 
a poisonous love potion for herself and Fanny, and ends their lives 
in a mad embrace before Alcide can come to their help. 


In his Mile, de Maiipi?i, Gautier ( 1 8 1 1 - 1 87 2 ) sought to ape Gamiani. 
Maupin is too well-known to require any description here. Gautier's 
little novel. This One and That, aroused so much opposition among 
the strait-laced, with its open-hearted representation of erotic 
scenes, that it was confiscated. Furthermore, Gautier was recog- 
nized as the author of a primitively powerful eroticon in the form 
of a travel diary which he wrote to a woman friend in Paris, a 
certain Madame Sabatier to whom Baudelaire also dedicated a cycle 
of his poems. Madame Sabatier, who lived in the Rue Frochot, 
received only artists, and every Saturday most of her friends would 
foregather at dinner. Gautier, Flaubert, Baudelaire and Henry Mon- 
nier were her regular guests. She would have none of gallantries 
and desired that the most abstract and serious subjects be discussed 
in her company. For this reason they gave her the nickname of 
president which she wore with all possible grace and inimitable 
charm. Gautier called his travel diary: Lettre a la Fresidente. 

Gautier's son-in-law who edited this Lettre says in his foreword, 
"with regard to the tone of the letter which I confess I have 
endeavored to tone down, it must be remembered that its author 
was twenty-four years old when he wrote it; that it was directed 
to a friend who belonged to the same romantic storm and stress 
period with himself; and that he was accustomed to the ribald 
tone of the atelier. Furthermore, the letter was not written for 
publication, which it seems almost superfluous to point out. Theo- 
phile Gautier wrote two or three letters in his life, more to gain 


practice in Rabelaisian coarseness that was native to him, and 
in the use of forbidden words, than out of base motives which 
might perhaps be suspected by some. Gautier sought to master the 
language of the older Gallic narrators and dreamed of being able 
to use it with lavish eloquence. One of the letters I have referred 
to, a record of a trip to Italy, is entirely in the style of Rabelais, and 
the artists of our circle who have read it, speak with great enthus- 
iasm about it." These and other works of his which because of their 
erotic content could not be published in official collections, were 
issued separately in a very limited edition. 


Stendhal-beyle was also an erotic writer. There are a number of 
grounds leading us to conclude that he did engage in such activity 
but none is quite conclusive. When he was but twelve years old 
he read erotic works, particularly Nerciat's Felicia, and Dangerous 
Liaisons. He tells all this in his Vie de Brulard. "I found ways and 
means to get into my father's library where there was a precious 
collection of Elzevir editions, but alas! I understood no Latin. I 
tried to read a few articles in the Encyclopedia but what was that 
after the Felicia and the New Heloise^ It is also known that his 
executor, Romain Coulomb, in his excessive discretion, burnt 282 
passionate letters addressed to him by the Countess Clementine 
Curial, and very likely of other ladies as well. In the library at 
Grenoble there is a manuscript designated by number 5896 which 
contains an unfinished and untitled erotic tale dated 1 80 1 . He was 
famous and notorious as well as a teller of anecdotes. When he was 
in congenial company he would gladly recount little intimate things. 
One constantly feared that at any instant he might tumble into 
the steaming ordure of foulness, but suddenly he would give his 


anecdote the most innocuous turn and everything would be for the 
best. One of these httle stories has been preserved in a collection 
by various authors edited by Balzac as Gloomy Stories. 

Victor Hugo has occasionally been regarded as the author of an 
obscene work, The Romance of Violet. Herein is related the story 
of a fifteen year old servant girl who flees to an artist to escape 
the snares of her master. She first serves the artist as model and 
later as mistress. A young countess casts her eye upon the pretty 
miss and initiates her into a lesbic cult; after which the artist and 
the two lesbians form an erotic trio. Violet goes on the stage where 
she develops her capacities and achievements. Towards the end, 
other tribadic scenes are enacted. This is obviously an eroticon 
like hundreds of others, one written without special talent. There 
certainly is not a trace of Victor Hugo's style. The intense delight 
depicted in the book of sapphic pleasures, makes one suspect that 
a woman was the author. Several women have been suspected; e.g., 
Countess Maurice de Boissiron or a Madame Querouen de Boussiron, 
but at this late day it is impossible to tell with certainty who the 
unknown author was. But that Victor Hugo had no hand in this 
tale is fairly certain. The attribution to him was certainly a shrewd 
trick by some publisher. 


Flaubert the stylist, acrobat, and the esthetic realist certainly did 
not put blinkers on to escape erotic problems. His Madame Bovary 
and The Holy Anthony of Padua are sufficient proof of his deep 
interest in this field. The former is the story of an eccentric woman 
who is chained to a good but dull husband. She neglects her house- 
hold, gallivants about with lovers, sinks ever more deeply and 
finally poisons herself. Flaubert was indicted for this novel, but 


was released because the court recognized that he had remained 
utterly moral in all his descriptions.. 

He was always truthful concerning others, and concerning him- 
self as well. His notebook demonstrates this and shows a number 
of fairly strong erotic passages. This diary of Flaubert's was pub- 
lished in Germany during 191 1 and despite the fact that the editor, 
Wilhelm Herzog, weakened several passages and omitted a num- 
ber of others, both he and his publisher were indicted for dissemi- 
nating immoral literature and fined fifty marks each. At the Sunday 
meetings of Flaubert, Zola, Daudet and Turgenieff there was little 
attempt at formality. The tone that reigned was that of Rabelais 
if not that of Villon, and spades were called by name. 

Flaubert's friends revelled in their literary productions, in the 
depiction of fairly free situations. Maupassant particularly showed 
himself to be an idealizing realist in his works. As critical spirit 
and cool observer of human weaknesses he naturally does not pass 
by the differentiated phenomena of sexual life. Indeed many of 
his works are saturated with sex and built up on the most intimate 
relationships of both sexes. A few examples will establish the fact 
that the experience of sex is primary for many if not most of his 
work. Who does not know the following stories? The comic efforts 
of the old peasant woman to drive away the gallant whom she has 
been supporting and whom she has given her tiny estate, when 
she discovers that he has been unfaithful to her. The young abbe 
who has been sent to chaperon three boys has to play the mid-wife 
on the way. The life and doings in a brothel. The cold mondaine 
who makes her husband so wild by her seductive disrobing that 
he consents to her conditions, namely, that he can only lie with 
her if he will pay her, his wife, for her favors. The unfortunate 
plight of a husband who suffers much because he must love too 
much, and his subsequent improvement after he provides his wife 


with a sturdy, powerful lover. All these themes are soaked in sex, 
and they are just a tiny sampling of the vast production of this 
prolific raconteur. He tells of the petty adventures of the pretty 
modiste in her hunt for money and pleasure; of the little sailor 
girl, when the four fathers of her still-born baby, promise to make 
another for her; of the hermit who unwittingly cohabits with his 
own natural daughter; of a lesbian, who drives her lover to suicide 
because of her tribadic impulses. He shows the surprise of a pair 
of lovers who have forgotten to bolt the door. He describes the 
romantic desire of an aging good philistine woman to have at least 
one idyllic moment in her life; and the first heroism of a boy at 
boarding school who wins as his mistress not the flapper of his 
desires, but the dormitory mother. In thoroughly serious and fact- 
ual fashion he discusses the problem of undesired motherhood. He 
depicts with masterful conciseness the frivolous conception of 
marital fidelity entertained by a distinguished matron, who winks 
from her window to a passing man because such is the fashion of 
the prostitute across the way. When the man comes up in acknowl- 
edgment of her signal, she can find no other way out but of giving 
herself to him. 

In their diary under February 17, 1882, the brothers Goncourt 
have an entry expressive of their irritation with the dishonest 
hypocrisy of certain critics. One of these gentry had asserted 
that he had, much against his will, taken a peep at the works of 
Marquis de Sade. But at the same time Maupassant informed them, 
that this very critic had requested him to obtain for him a supply 
of bawdy books from certain Belgian publishers. The question 
arises why Maupassant was given the task. It seems reasonable 
to suppose that the critic suspected that Maupassant had some 
predilection for, and some knowledge of, this type of literary pro- 
ductions, and that he also had certain connections with publishers 


of porneia. This would lead us to suppose that either Maupassant 
himself was a lover of erotic literature, or that among his friends 
he was known to be active in this field. Actually, the second sup- 
position is true. There is a grotesque eroticon from his pen called The 
Turkish House which was never printed. This work was written 
in collaboration with Robert Pinchon and the manuscript is in 
the possession of Maupassant's uncle the painter, Le Pottevin. The 
piece is, according to the admission of the author, "horribly in- 
decent" and a Parisian journal characterized it as "bawdy enough 
to make a sargeant blush". The Turkish house is a brothel and 
Maupassant, the brothel master. This piece was enacted in 1875 
in the studio of the painter Leloir, and in 1877, in the studio of 
another painter Becker. Flaubert, Turgenieff, Zola and others were 
spectators. Zola remained earnest, Turgenieff applauded, Flaubert 
refreshed himself with the coarse jesting. A female spectator, Suzane 
Lazier, protested and left the room. According to a letter of Mau- 
passant, the eight women in the cast appeared with masks on. The 
remembrance of the marvelous frivolity of this piece was so vivid 
to Edmond de Goncourt that thirteen years later his conversation 
would occasionally revert to it. 

Two more works sail under Maupassant's name. First, The Girl 
Cousins of the Colonel^ which contains the story of two sisters, 
of whom one is married to a weak husband and the other lives 
with a man out of wedlock and is disillusioned by her experience. 
The really erotic scenes are thinly sowed over throughout the 
book and everything is drawn with the greatest moderation. Mau- 
passant himself absolutely denied any connection with this book. 
It is likely that the book was written by the same hand that wrote 
The Romance of Violet, Countess Maurice de Boissiron, an intimate 
friend of George Sand, Both volumes manifest the author's constant 
predilection for tribadic scenes. 


The second novel attributed to Maupassant is called The Adven- 
tures of a Parisian Cocotte. There is no way at all of determining 
Maupassant's authorship but many have assumed it. When he was 
still young and unknown, he composed a number of ultra-realistic 
erotic novels. He was impelled to produce this type of literature not 
merely because of his marked tendencies to erotic representations, 
which appears so strongly in his recognized immortal masterpieces, 
but also because he needed money; and an unknown author can 
always find a publisher in Paris for this sort of thing much more 
readily than for his serious works. Nevertheless, the book is master- 
fully done, and if Maupassant was the author he did not have to 
be ashamed of this natural child. The book is an uncommonly 
interesting , even fascinating, picture of metropolitan morality, rich 
in remarkable figures, extraordinary events and thrilling action. 
All gallant Paris at about 1880 passes in review before our eyes. 
We become acquainted with the boudoir of a distinguished cocotte, 
and the separees of aristocratic restaurants. We catch glimpses be- 
hind the curtains of great varietes, and of those night quarters 
which serve the needs of fugitive gallantry. We see the grand 
cocotte, the highly paid prostitute who seeks her clients only in 
high society. We see the addicts of lesbian love cults; the journalist 
who understands how to make all gallant ladies favorably disposed 
to him; the spendthrift banker who sacrifices thousands to his per- 
verse desires; the clever little ballet dancer who knows just when 
to rip her tights, etc. The relationships of all these people are 
drawn with great realistic fidelity and psychological understanding. 
Emile Zola belonged to the Flaubert-Maupassant group. In his 
youth he wrote a little eroticon in the style of Lafontaine called 
The Devilish Hermit, in which he very successfully copied the 
pleasing style of the good abbe. That Zola's general works abound 
in erotic situations is known to every one. Take for instance the 


grandiose scene in Germinal when the old women unman the dead 

Now they heard the piercing voice of the Brule woman: 

"We must mutilate him like a tomcat". 

"Yes, yes! Out upon the tomcat. Out with the tomcat. He 
has done too much, the filthy fellow." 

Already Mouquette was opening his trousers and pulling 
them off, while Levaque raised the feet of the dead man. Now 
Brule spread apart the thighs of the corpse, and seized with 
the fleshless hands of old women its genitories. She got hold of 
everything and tore with such force that her dry old spine bent 
and her long arms cracked. The soft fleshy parts resisted. She 
had to grab hold again and finally tore, tore everything out, 
tore the whole mass out, a filthy bleeding bundle of flesh which 
she swung in the air with a cry of triumph. 

"I have it, I have it". 

Yawping voices greeted the monstrous trophy with insults. 

"Now you dog, you shall no longer fill the bellies of our 

"Now everything is out. We shall no longer be forced to hold 
your buttocks for a piece of bread." 

"Hey you, I owe you two francs. Do you want to have some- 
thing on account? I want it right now, if you can still do it." 

These jests filled them with horrible gayety. They showed 
each other the bleeding bundle as though it were a wild 
animal from which they had all had to suffer and which now, 
finally, they had in their power, dead. They spat upon it, 
thrust out their chins at it and repeated their mockery in wild 

"He can no longer do it, he can no longer do it. This is no 
more a man which will now be hurled into the earth. Now rot, 
you useless dog." 

Brule stuck the whole bundle on her stick and holding it on 
high as though it were a flag, began to move followed by the 
howling horde of women. Drops of blood fell from it and the 
lump of flesh dangled from the stick like a piece of refuse meat 
hangs from the butcher's table. 


If one were to compile all the passages of Zola's work that do not 
correspond to squeamish taste, one would obtain an integral work 
of gross obscenity which would undoubtedly fall a prey to the 
censor. Curiously enough, this attempt at compilation was actually 
made in France. Towards the close of 1896 a second-hand dealer, 
Antoine Laporte by name, issued a compilation under the title 
Zola agaijist Zola. It contained all the most daring and realistic 
scenes of Zola's writings in some sort of order. This anthology 
was adorned with a frontispiece of exquisitely refined taste. A mass 
of chamberpots have been set up against the edifice of the forty 
Academicians and are blocking the way to it. Each of these pots 
bears the name of a writing of Zola. 

If Zola is raw to the point of disgust, if he wallows in the mon- 
strosities of human life, if he fears no stench, if he permits his 
characters to employ words that are omitted from ordinary lexicons, 
he is never lascivious. He knows no bawdy illusions. He does not 
raise curtains half way and invite the imagination to complete the 
process. If he has something to say or show, he says and shows it 
with the rawness of truth and indignation. 


Paul Verlaine (1844- 1896) has given us in his famous poetry, 
verse of overwhelming power and natural charm. There is some- 
thing unFrench in his naturalness, and that is why foreigners are 
so fond of the emotional warmth and truth in his work. But these 
famous poems in the official collections are not the whole unadulter- 
ated Verlaine. To be able to form a correct judgment of the man 
one must also read his secret books. Having done the latter, we are 
constrained to admit that he would have remained nearer to us 
had we been spared the other side of his poetical creation. It is 


not the fact that Verlaine was an erotic writer that puts us out of 
humor, but that this factitious eroticism explodes Hke a cold fire- 
cracker, and does not break forth mightily like a hot stream of 
lava from some glowing interior. It is this which casts a shadow 
upon his character. Les Amies is a series of six extremely candid 
sonnets which treats of the sapphic exercises of two budding girls. 
It is delightful despite the passionate eroticism because of its mag- 
nificent rhythm. These poems, wonderfully delicate in their senti- 
ment, will not obscure the picture of the poet. But what of the 
collection, Men and Women, which appeared clandestinely in 
Verlaine's last years? Stefan Zweig, the best student of Verlaine's 
work, holds that in these works Verlaine takes his place among the 
greatest pornologists of all time. He has sharply broken with the 
tradition of the charming ribaldry of Grecourt and Piron to record 
with unparalled shamelessness, subjective pornography. They are, 
despite their smooth form, the most repulsive in their self-rev- 
elation, the most complete lexicon of perverse arts, the most brutal 
in realistic representation. The sexual gaminerie of Verlaine which, 
at an earlier stage of his life in the Fetes Galantes, was frequently 
able to unite with the tender sentiment of his sensitive soul a 
coquettish, panurgic, lascivious sort, has here become naked and 
utterly obscene. It is infinitely tragic, this spectacle of an old man 
on the hospital lists writing with uncertain and trembling hand 
these pitiful rhymes about his vices and past nakedness, all for a 
few francs with which to buy some absinthe. And just as the 
poem, Le trou de cul, written together with Rimbaud, and repro- 
duced in the pederastic book Hombres, destroyed the legend of 
a purely psychic and ethereal friendship, so too the existence and 
distribution of these books banishes the fable of the "pure fool". 
It is all too pitiful, but the immortal singer still retains the sympathy 
of all great poets and writers. 


Femmes was published in 1890 in London and Verlaine got 
twelve pounds sterling for it. As can well be imagined, the edition 
was almost immediately confiscated so that only a few copies were 
sneaked away. Hombres too was confiscated. In the latter work 
all those poems were unified that sprang from the love experience 
of Verlaine with Arthur Rimbaud, and are therefore songs of 
praise in honor of uranic love. All these shamelessly erotic poems 
{Amies, Femmes, Hombres) were later united and published. 


By the side of Verlaine we might fittingly place the poet of deca- 
dence, of the abnormal, Charles Baudelaire. He regarded divinity 
and love as merely welcome texts from which to derive stimulus 
for inhumanly smooth and satanically cool poems. Concepts re- 
versed themselves for him and good became bad, and evil became 
ideal. In his Flowers of Evil there stands revealed his morbid mania, 
to make the ugly and hateful the subject of poetry. Yet he cannot 
really be regarded as an erotic writer even though he extols Venus 
imlgivaga in his poetry, though not exactly in the same measure 
as Verlaine. Six poems in the first edition of this work were branded 
as immoral by the police and had to be expurgated from all future 
editions. Nevertheless, Baudelaire printed them privately together 
with some satirical poems in the volume Epaves, which Rops pro- 
vided with a frontispiece. This volume is practically non-existent 
today but other editions have been reprinted often. The poem, 
A maid complains in midsu?nmer — "how long will love last?" 
gave rise to a wide-spread pornographic parody. When he was 
only twenty-one, Baudelaire chose as the epitaph suitable for him 
some doggerel to the effect that "here lay a fellow who had hurried 
to the worms too soon because he had fooled with women too much." 


Baudelaire had a great love for erotic literature of all sorts as 
appears from a letter of his to his publisher in 1865. "Thanks for 
having informed me about the price of Sade's Justine and where I 
could possibly find it. I would also like to know the price of 
Aphrodite, and what in your opinion are the characteristic moral 
and literary qualities of such slop? You may ask what does Baude- 
laire want with this package of excrement? The said Baudelaire 
has enough spirit to study crime and vice in his own heart. Well, 
the information I want from you is intended for a great man who 
believes he can study crime in other people." This reference is to 
Sainte-Beuve who once asked Baudelaire for one of the dirty poems 
that had appeared in the publishing house of Poulet-Malassis, 
Baudelaire's own publisher. 



THE publication of erotic books has meant at all times great risks 
for both author and publisher, for if discovered both would be 
liable to hard punishment. It is remarkable that these dangers did 
not have an intimidating effect, that large monetary and jail sen- 
tences just did not impede the propagation of this literature. The 
author generally does not lose very much when his writings are 
confiscated. But much more is at stake for the publisher. Under 
certain circumstances he saw the foundation of his business endang- 
ered when the entire edition of a pornographic work into which he 
had sunk a portion of his fortune fell a prey to the censor. And yet 
there were innumerable booksellers who though fully aware of 
these dangers continually sought to outwit the law. What was 
the attraction? Surely the chief motive was the desire to earn 
large and quick profits, for obscene books must always obtain 
a higher price than any other kind of reading matter. There are 
several reasons for this: the fact that they are prohibited, that they 
titillate the senses, that they can serve as a help in seduction, that 
they are good investments for their value increases with the passage 
of time, and occasionally such books are sold at very high prices 
indeed. But this economic moment alone will not serve to explain 
everything satisfactorily. For if the publisher or bookseller reaps 
profits from the sale of one product, he is exposed to great loss if 
some other of these books should be confiscated. It appears likely 



that there was also a very strong bibliophilic interest which impelled 
the daring publishers to offer a home to new books of value, what- 
ever their eroscenic nature, or to pluck certain old books from 
oblivion by reprinting them in worthy garb. There was also a 
degree of spiritual relationship between the publisher and his 
authors, which impelled the former to gather around him people 
who were of similar taste for erotics, facetiae, curiosa, and thus 
to obtain a more accessible market for his more tolerable publications. 
A half dozen of the most important French publishers of erotica 
in the last century will now be mentioned. 

1. Felix Regnier-Becker, bom Mem, was a carpenter by trade. 
In 1829 he issued a collection of his own verses and in 1830 pub- 
lished The Siege of Paradise. This brought him a penalty of three 
months' imprisonment and a fine of 300 francs. However, a certain 
journal took up a collection for him which was so successful 
that he could not only pay the fine but had a tidy little sum left, 
with which he became a bookdealer. He devoted himself to the pro- 
mulgation of obscene books and put more than a hundred of these 
into circulation. Indictments and penalties against him multiplied 
but the more the persecutions increased, the greater became his 
bookselling activities. Nothing further is known of his later life. 

2. Jules Gay was a vagrant bookseller. He lived first at 41 
quai des Grands-Augustins, Paris, but fled to Belgium to escape 
punishment. In 1865 he became a partner of a Belgian publisher, 
Mertens. Later he left Brussels secretly and we find him suc- 
cessively in Geneva, Turin, Nice and San Remo, and finally in 
Brussels again where he formed a new firm with a Mile. Douce. 
In 1 87 1 he founded the Soviet e des bibliophiles cosmopolites whose 
only members, however, were himself and his son Jean, who opened 
a small bookshop in Turin in 1875. The senior Gay was very active, 
particularly in the domain of erotica. His chief interest was not 


in the publication of original works but in the reprinting of famous 
masterpieces of erotic literature, which he sent out into the small 
world of bibliophiles in exceedingly fine editions. Naturally he 
frequently ran afoul of the law which could not understand his 
aims, which were ideal from the standpoint of the bibliophile. 
In order to escape persecution. Gay was careful to hide his identity 
at least in the most daring books; but as a general rule, he gave the 
child of his firm, his own name, or that of Gay-Douce. He circu- 
lated his books from one of the metropolitan centers listed above. 

As the illustrator for his books, Gay had the virtuoso Felicien 
Rops who was himself more or less responsible for the publication 
of a number of books in this genre and was himself, a bookworm. 
Besides women, his art and flowers, he loved nothing more than 
to brouse about old books. Many of these were found by him and 
later published, e.g.. The Satirical Cabinet^ The Devotions of Mon- 
sieur Roch, and others. All the books, about 70, which Rops illust- 
rated were more or less erotic, some in the quarrelsome, humorous 
old Flemish style, many in the gallant forms of the eighteenth, and 
the rest in the decadent style of the ninteenth century. All his 
engravings which were the products of a ripe artist, refer to women. 
It is difficult to say whose influence was greater: that of contem- 
porary literature upon Rops, or the influence he exerted upon the 
writing of his contemporaries who began to write about women as 
he represented her in his lines and planes and colors. 

Gay was indicted several times, and in 1863 he had to pay a 
fine of 100 francs and suff^er the confiscation of his books. Two 
years later he again appeared before the court, this time in the 
company of other publishers. He was accused of being the pub- 
lisher of 38 erotic and obscene books, and was sentenced to four 
months in jail and 500 francs fine. Gay himself reported these 
trials in a work which he published in a limited edition of but 100 



copies. In this he does not polemize against his sentence but merely 
sets forth the reasons that induced him to become a fervent lover 
of clandestine literature and an inveterate bibliophile, and hence 
to undertake the publication of these and other confiscated works. 

3. Another publisher sentenced at the same time with Gay was 
Poulet-Malassis who received one year in jail and 500 francs' fine, 
in punishment for the 86 erotica he had sent into the world, and 
the unscrupulousness that characterized this distribution. Undoubt- 
edly monetary motives were paramount with him, but even he 
was definitely a bibliophile. His de luxe edition of the classics was 
a terrible failure and well-nigh ruined him. Now he was compelled 
to move to the suburbs, to Ixelles, where Baudelaire lived, and to 
take a small house among the philistines. Bibliographic interests 
and the very natural desire to recoup his fortunes impelled him to 
take up the publishing and reprinting of piquant works. Here 
the little slender man sat bent over his manuscripts and proofs, 
indefatigable and indomitably ambitious, and supervised the edi- 
tions that were to bring the choicest products to the small com- 
munity of booklovers. Baudelaire gave him encouragement and 
stimulus; and Poulet succeeded in obtaining the active cooperation 
of the distinguished artist, Rops. These delightful little books wan- 
dered into the world on strong China or Holland paper, in very 
limited editions. The most fruitful year was 1864, which saw the 
publication of about a dozen classics. 

4. In the eighties, the work of Gay was carried on by Isidore 
Liseux. In him too the bibliophile was superior to the tradesman, 
for what merchant would expose himself to as many hazards as 
did Liseux? His editions are as much sought after today as Gay's. 

5. Kistemaecker in Brussels is at the opposite pole from Liseux. 
He cultivated pure pornography. Everything that was at all coarse 
and offensive, be the contents solid or froth, was meat for Kiste- 


maecker. His obscene productions were smuggled over the border 
to provide France with saucy stuff. 

6. At the turn of the century a successor who followed in the 
footsteps of Gay and Liseux, established himself in Paris, Charles ' 
Carrington by name, an Englishman. In excellent editions, provided 
with prefaces, he issued, both in English and French, the most 
famous erotica of the world at a cheap price. True bibliophile 
that he was, no erotic product was outside his domain: anthro- 
pology, chronicles of scandal, flagellation, original gallant literature, 
scientific works on sex, etc. Charles Carrington was harassed by 
official chicaneries even more than Gay or Liseux. He died after 
the World War. 

A word will be in order about Felicien Rops ( 183 3- 1898), whom 
we have mentioned several times as the illustrator of numerous 
erotic books. This Flemish artist, of colossal strength, found in 
Paris the world's center of the striving after pleasure. From the 
wealth of experience he had here and the multitude of sights that 
came under his eyes, the notion crystallized in his mind that all 
life and thought centered around woman. He loved the Parisian 
mixture of silk, nerves and powder with eyes greatly enlarged 
through the application of cosmetics. There is nothing more ravish- 
ing, colorful, or gallant than the plastic Decameron of elegant 
Paris which Rops undertook. He looked everywhere and saw 
everything. And every woman that he represented he undressed, */ 
but always left her some bit of clothing: a pair of hose, a panty, a \ 
corset; anything to make her nakedness more titillating. Rops often 
pilloried modern woman, representing her as a prostitute, with bony 
body, with eyes staring and made wild by alcohol, with protruding 
jaws; a prostitute whose tremendous power is a mixture of base 
and lusting elements. It is the sexual life destroyed and poisoned 
by a depraved morality that speaks to us through the medium of 


Rops' intellectual art. He represents the lurid tragedies of love of 
revengeful women, whose passion dotes on the strong spice of 
sadistic feeling; and by her side, in his inexhaustible gallery of 
modem women, those grinning children of lust whose prototype 
is that street Venus bursting with power and strength, appearing 
in the picture Pornocraty. Rops descended into the hell of the 
brothel and cheap tavern to show us the women in whom im- 
morality has begun its work of disintegration. Weary and nau- 
seated by the endless monotony of their metier, these women for 
whom the beaker of lust has become flat and stale, have taken ref- 
uge in absinthe, which still leaves them a few pitiful illusions, and 
confers upon them an artificial happiness, and the meagre intoxica- 
tion of forgetfulness. Hollow-eyed they he there before us in 
expectation of the routine embrace, with just a rag of a shirt to 
cover the nakedness of their withering body, washed out, ener- 
vated Messalinas. He shows us these unfortunate creatures on the 
inexorable decline. The progress of their ruin makes them confused 
and wasted drunkards in whose eyes only the fire of alcohol 
glimmers; or they become that mercilessly emaciated woman whose 
type he draws for us in Mors syphilitica. Of all the thrilling beauty 
of the earthly goddesses, which once could lash male flesh into 
fury, nothing now remains but a heap of human ruins. What was 
I once a woman, now is entirely debased, debauched, and disin- 

( tegrated by the foul profusion of modem perversities, now is the 
broken, shapeless, useless plaything of the devil hurled on the 
rubbish heap to complete her decay. 

Before we get to the end of our forage into the nineteenth 
century, let us say a little about erotic theatres, particularly the 
erotic theatre on the Rue de la Sante, previously referred to. This 
erotic theatre, which actually existed from 1862 to 1864 owes 
its rise to a drunken jest. In the circle of young bohemians some 


one got the idea of, creating a little puppet theatre for the amuse- 
ment of a few chosen ones. Droll pieces were to be presented and 
no limits were to be set to the fancies of the poets. The theatre was 
opened in the presence of twenty-five young authors, publishers 
and artists. Among the invited guests were Chamfleury, Monselet, 
Daudet, and Poulet-Malassis. These presentations even found a 
favorable review in the press. Some of the comments were: Still a 
new theatre. An intimate theatre. Theatron eroticon that is, a theatre 
with love arousing marionettes. But without excitation, and every- 
thing is held within moral bounds. The harlequin thrusts have at all 
times been the guardians of morality and when the mother cannot 
bring her little daughter here, this hospitable place will become the 
pleasurable gathering place of talented artists and literati. 

In order to afford the reader some notion of these plays a few of 
the more common ones will be summarized. 

The Eyes of Love by Lemercier de Neuville is, despite its erotic 
license, very interesting psychologically. Sylvia, a brothel mistress 
still young, complains in a monologue that she must always further 
the intimate relations between her girls and the visitors, while no 
hour of love comes to her. For this reason she decides to go on the 
"line" once again. Luck is with her. Dorante, a famous pimp and 
girl-dealer wants to pay for his female flesh once, for a change. 
Since Sylvia pleases him he follows her. Deceived by his fine 
clothing she acquiesces to his terms of paying later. But his end 
having been gained, the pander in him comes out and he states 
very brutally that in his own house of prostitution he would not / 

tolerate such a one as stupid as she who did not know enough to 
insist on payment before the deed. Now Sylvia removes her mask, 
avows her amorous desires, and proposes that he become her bully, 
to which he assents. 

A Caprice by the same author deals with a married skirt-chaser 


by the name of Florestan. He comes to a strumpet whose suggestive 
name is Urinette, but she is still at her toilette. In the introductory 
monologue he avers that he was on the point of fulfilling his 
connubial function with his sleeping little wife. But variety is at- 
tractive, and so he decides to go out and hunt up a new vessel. 
Hence he interrupts his siege to his wife and saves his ammunition 
for later. But when the jade enters and tempts him to the act, he 
suffers a shameful impotence. Urinette leaves him alone, raging mad. 
Soon Don Priapus shows his caprice and rises to new life. But 
Urinette is implacable and Florestan experiences a recrudescence 
of moral scruples. Why debauch away from home? True happiness 
is to be found only at home. 

Scapin by Glatigny is a peculiar sort of drama. Lucinde, the 
daughter of Corbin and the betrothed of Pignouflard, does not 
want to wash her private parts. The father complains to Scapin, 
a brothel master, about his troubles whereupon the latter offers 
to bring about the girl's ablution if she will come to his institution. 
Corbin agrees. By chance the fiance of Lucinde visits the brothel 
and naturally meets his bride. The engagement is in danger of 
being broken. Thereupon the master of the brothel brings in a 
tub with the bathwater, and the pestilential fumes stream out, 
a sign that the girl is washing herself. All ends in harmony. 

The Sign of Gold by Amadee Rolland and Jean Duboys has 
been aptly designated as excrement by Deditius. This erotic scato- 
logical musical comedy in three acts is the best thing in the collec- 
tion, after Monnier's contribution. The Marquis who is growing 
old wants an heir to carry on his name and makes every possible 
effort to gain his end. But he must have recourse to many artifices, 
which we shall leave undescribed here. The drama occupies itself 
as much with infidelities as with excrement but the dialogue is 
carried out with considerable wit. 


The Anniversary of the Marriage^ by Neuville and Duboys, 
describes two young and now honorably married women, despite 
their earlier wanton Hfe, who are expecting their former lovers 
in a separee. Memories are exchanged. Both are dissatisfied with 
their husbands who do not understand how to love. The only lovely 
thing is love between women. They become more and more in- 
timate and at the very moment when the waiter outside is ushering 
the lovers in, both women disappear in order to flee to Lesbos. 
The Grisette mid the Student of Monnier has already been ana- 
lyzed. The Last Day of a Condemned Man of Tisserand and The 
Grand Symphony of the Bug of Neder and Bataille, possess neither 
the wit nor the effectiveness of the others. 

All in all, one must admit that much effort has been expended 
on such none too worthy dramas. There seems to be little justifica- 
tion for the expenditure of money and intellectual effort except as a 
manifestation of French drama and thought during the nineteenth 




THIS final chapter will attempt to bring the erotic history of 
France up-to-date. It will show the wide-spread eroticism and 
marital infidelities among the bourgeoisie and how they altered the 
customs of the houses of prostitution which had been practically 
unchanged since the birth of France, a thousand years ago. It will 
also point out the significant consequences of the erotic movies, 
which have also become an indispensable part of brothels. This 
history makes no pretence to go beyond the nineteenth century, 
but in this closing chapter we shall treat somewhat of twentieth- 
century France. 

Venal love has been found at all times and among all peoples, 
and indeed it will continue to exist as long as social and economic 
contrasts remain in national life. Poverty compels youth to make/ 
capital of its body; indolence and the desire to lead a comfortable 
life without strenuous labor will always recruit the ranks of prosti- 
tutes. Tliis fact is not altered by the circumstance that with the 
progressive emancipation of women the stigmatization of extra-4- 
marital intercourse has begun to disappear. It is true that our social 
evolution with the difficulties it sets in the way of marriage, espe- 
cially for those belonging to the middle class, has gradually a- 
chieved some measure of recognition for the varied forms of pre- 
and extra-marital sex relationships. Indeed, this development has 
already progressed very far. Prostitution still exists in that primitive 


form which it has had for centuries, with one important difference; 
the rigid boundaries erected between bourgeoisie and prostitution 
have become more flexible. But this can scarcely be interpreted 
as a higher stage of moraUty. 

Although the practices in all the brothels of the world are 
essentially the same, there are some differences between the French 
and those of foreign brothels. The satisfaction of the sheerly physical 
need without any trace of emotional excitation, the practice most 
common in harbor brothels is, in Paris, found only in the very 
lowest dives. But the average prostitute in Paris wants to create the 
impression at least that it was an impulse of the heart, be it ever 
so ephemeral, that impelled her to give herself. This circumstance 
probably has its ground in the fact that among the French, almost 
/ the whole private and public life is steeped in sex. Hence, physical 
satisfaction is not simply a whim that appears suddenly and will 
be submerged by other interests immediately after the act. 

The famous sexologist Rohleder who went through the metrop- 
olis of France with wide-open impartial eyes characterizes the 
dominant atmosphere in most telUng words. He concluded that 
one need only to have lived in Paris a very short while and to have 
observed attentively, to realize how everywhere in public life, in 
the larger and particularly the smaller theatres, varietes, cafes chan- 
tants, the main boulevards, the restaurants down to the vilest 
absinthe dive, everything turns on the sexual. What makes every- 
thing so easy is the system of hotel quarters. There are thousands of 
smaller and medium sized hostelries which are available to couples 
for a brief hour or so. One must have seen how immensely large 
this clandestine prostitution is, how here almost any kind of woman, 
from the honorable matron to the maid and factory operative, give 
themselves to a greater or less degree to this clandestine prostitution; 
how here at every moment of the day and in every section of the 


city sexual debauches are indulged, how almost all pleasure and 
art itself, serve the sexual. Let the stranger enter Paris from the 
Gare du Nord or the Gare de VEst. Unless it is very early in the 
morning and even then the stranger \vill find immediate incitement 
to sex, his attention will soon be riveted to sex. He has scarcely 
alighted from the train when he will, not uncommonly, be accosted 
by individuals who will volunteer to act as his guides pour les 
amusements. When he arrives at the hotel he may have the ex- 
perience of being smiled at most warmly and lovingly by the filles 
de chambre; and if he is too naive to understand their smiles or too 
indifferent, these females will inform him quite directly that they 
are ready for an hour of love. When he goes to a restaurant, unless 
it is a grand-cafe of the most elaborate kind, he will very soon be 
informed that white meat is on the menu, and which is ready for 
consumption after his meal. When he goes to an amusement place 
he will be surprised at the elegance and luxury of the appointments; 
and also at the naturalness with which prostitution manifests itself. 
But in this respect Paris is like other great metropolitan centers, 
which cater to an enormous contingent of travellers who have to 
be amused. Since Paris has long borne the odium of being the most 
wicked capital in the world, it must strive to do justice to all tastes 
in order to bring gold into the land. But this fact alone will not 
explain the overplus of prostitution. Indeed, many other motives 
are at work, particularly the poor economic circumstances which 
continually recruit the ranks of the daughters of joy. The under- 
paid salesgirls and shop clerks can practice prostitution as their 
main vocation for quite a while without passing as official prosti- 
tutes. However, only a slight impetus will be necessary to push 
them in that direction. Sickness, unemployment, domestic quarrels, 
trouble with the police, — all are just a few causes which may make 
professional prostitutes out of clandestine ones. If these factors do 


not come into operation, then the traffic with one's corporeal charms 
can still contribute a very appreciable addition to the otherwise 
meagre income. The sinking to the level of purchasable goods is 
rendered easy by the frivolity of the Parisienne which is inbred 
and nurtured by the germs of seduction which enter every pore of 
her body with the very air of Paris. 

This frivolity of attitude to mate or lover, this gay evaluation 
of marital fidelity, had necessarily to seek a vent through which 
the accumulated sexual tension could be relieved, and whereby 
the woman with an eye to financial remuneration could realize 
her desires. The most convenient opportunity for these amusements 
were offered by the maisons de rendezvous. This system of tem- 
porary quarters, in which the woman who was willing to sell her 
body could enter and leave secretly, offered to both sexes all the 
opportunities and delights of intimate intercourse without sub- 
jecting either of the parties to the degrading feeling of venality. 
The man, who had to pay a higher price for these goods than for 
the usual prostitute, could enjoy the piquant feeling of having an 
adventure with a good woman, while continuing to enjoy the 
lure of the forbidden. The woman, on the other hand, earned from 
these occasional adventures some valuable pin money whereby she 
could satisfy the extravagant wishes of her capricious little head 
without molesting the purse of her legitimate consort. Talmeyr, 
who visited very many of these houses of rendezvous at the behest \ 
of the police, has described his experiences in a book entitled: 
TkeEnd of a Society: New Forms of Corruption in Paris. He con- 
firms the fact that it was primarily the wish to earn a little some- 
thing from her escapade that impelled the woman to visit such 
convenient houses of opportunity. Some came regularly, others 
infrequently. Whatever class of society they were recruited from, 
they found here at all times and under the most discreet circum- 



stances whatever sum they were in need of, the fifty or one 
hundred francs of the httle business to the 3,000 or 4,00 francs 
of the big transaction, in return for the usufruct of their person. 
But we must not forget the fact that it was men who were the 
patrons of these houses; it was they who visited these maisons de 
rendezvous to give free rein to their passions and who ultimately 
guaranteed the profitability of such establishments. 

It is self evident that such houses needed many customers to 
carry on. The mania of the male visitors consisted, as is quite com- 
prehensible, in working for their partners married women and 
ladies of society; and it was the duty of the mistress of such 
houses to arouse the belief in these gulls that their wishes v/ere 
being gratified. There certainly was no lack of married women 
and even the demand for ladies of society could in most cases be 
suppHed. When the latter was not possible the clever panderesses 
could always create the illusion that Countess de X or Marquise 
de Y was ready to give her private favors for a suitable price. 
Such a pleasure naturally was worth much and there were enough 
simpletons who bought for a dear price nothing more than the 
commonest whore. But although ever so often ladies of the peri- 
patetic vocation would be frequenters of such houses, the effort 
was constantly made to avoid anything that might be offensive 
and give away baldly the preciously guarded secrets of the house. 
After all, it was the unsuspected nature of these love-nests that 
constituted their value to those who made occasional use of them. 

Of course these houses did considerable damage to the brothel 
business but they continued to exist in all shades, from the most 
luxurious palatial villa to the most miserable hovel. They served 
all types of perversities including the most fiendishly cruel; and 
even the most repulsive sadists got what they wanted if they but 
paid enough for it. No matter how much a girl was tortured, 


the police could not interfere if she had consented to suffer these 

Doctors agree that the modern cultured person needs variety 
and that constant physical copulation with the same person re- 
quires change. It was but one step further to suggest that the 
change be a complete alteration of the sexual act, and this change, 
the Parisian brothels met in the cleverest ways and called into 
service the most complicated achievements of modern technique. 
In the illustrated comic weeklies, particularly Le Sourire, there are 
weekly advertisements of these temples of vice where all sorts 
of "artistic tableaux" and representations of gallant engravings are 
enacted in the flesh. There is a great appeal about this sort of sex- 
travagance. As soon as the spectators have taken their places and 
find themselves in good hands, the presentation begins — behind 
a glass plate. Behind the scenes of suburban theatres, bayaderes 
from the rue Lepic give themselves to lesbian love just as the collegean 
student might imagine it. Or the eighteenth century is employed 
as the milieu of the scene to be enacted. The famous pieces of 
Schall, Fragonard, Borell, and the lesser masters, follow in order be- 
tween a bed from the milieu of the Faubourg St. Antoine and two 
empty easy chairs. They enacted The Enema^ The Lever of the 
Newly Married Couple, and many daring illustrations to the tales 
of Lafontaine. It is understood that all this was amusement for 
cultured folks only, for one must at least be acquainted with the 
tales of Lafontaine to appreciate the detailed points of the panto- 

But no matter how clever and attractive such shows might be 
for the numerous audiences of well-read people, they could never 
satisfy the coarser instincts of the average public. Artificial rep- 
resentations no matter how piquant, are not what the visitor to 
a brothel expects. He desires more powerful fare and this is pur- 



veyed in the very numerous pornographic movies. These are, to 
be sure, no monopoly of the French for they are found in the 
brothels of all other countries. Curt Moreck, writing about the 
pornographic film, says that it offers us an insight into the varied 
erotic tastes and views of the different nations. Thus the French 
films specialize in depictions of the orgasm, of the acts of dis-. 
charge, and go into the broadest descriptions of the preparatory 
acts, though occasionally attention is centered on the latter to such 
an extent that the sexual act occurs behind the scenes. England 
produces such stuff principally for consumption by India; and 
South Africa prefers flagellational scenes and sadistic abuses of 
negroes. Italy, whose southern extremity is already in the zone of 
Oriental sexuality, cultivates as its specialty the sotadic film, the 
representation of sodomitic acts; and only slightly less popular 
than photographs of sexual acts between men and beasts, are scenes 
of copulation among beasts. In Germany sin is without grace 
and indeed in the erotic movies of this land the charge seems quite 
true. For they generally show well executed, terribly realistic coitus 
scenes but lack the erotic pictures of animals. One can say, in brief, 
that the pornographic movie comprehends the whole scale of 
immorality and includes all variations, from the refined piquanterie 
which shudders at the representation of the sex act and depicts 
only the immoral flirt in all its dangers, to the most bestial wallow- 
ing in the foulest and most extravagant postures. How these scenes 
were staged and enacted can be imagined from the fact that the 
actors were in most cases whores and alphonses, or other shady and 
depraved individuals. They lack every trace of artistic refinement 
and are merely the witless hackwork of depraved imaginations. 

Something should be said about this alphonse or bully concern- J 
ing whom the reader of newspapers, whose curiosity has been fed 
by an accommodating press, has got quite false notions. These de- 


classed of society have nothing queef or striking about their ex- 
terior. The balloon cap and the red neckerchief, the chief outward 
signs of the Apaches, have passed from the picture. They are 
only recreated or called back into life to impress tourists and create 
local color and the illusion of cruelty, mystery and mad love. There 
is nothing at all distinctive about the clothing of these Louis which 
would set them apart from the average citizen; and indeed, like 
American racketeers, they don't like to have too much attention 
drawn to them in any way. The support of these fellows is worried 
about by the girls who "run" for them; and in turn, the girls find in 
these pimps, protectors and lovers. The latter factor is more ima- 
ginary than real for when they choose their bully, they virtually 
contract to support him continuously, to transfer all their earnings 
to him and if these are sometimes insufficient to suffer abuse and 
manhandling as punishment. And yet one of these lost creatures 
will hang on to her pimp and swear every manner of perjury in 
order to save him from jail, because in a moment of fierce jealousy 
at his choice of another, she had gotten him into a scrape. 

Again, hke American racketeers, these bullies had to have a voca- 
tion through which they ostensibly support themselves. They usu- 
ally pretend to be commercial representatives, travelling salesmen 
of wine, cigars or perfumes, or else they choose some other free 
profession whose economic possibilities cannot be checked up. 
Every bourgeois occupation is thoroughly eschewed; and it is 
understood that everyone who "belongs" will not hesitate to aug- 
ment his business with a little extra job like theft, fake, swindle, 
etc., a procedure not only not frowned upon by his fellow workers 
but rather abetted. Since they are regarded as declassed by the laws 
of the bourgeoisie, it must not be a matter of surprise if they do not 
accept such laws. In this respect the Parisian bully differs in no 
wise from his colleagues in the metropolis of any other land. 


And so, we come to an end of the erotic history of France, and 
the history of its erotic literature. There are endless books on the 
history of France, endless books on its literature, but hitherto one 
could find no work dealing with the erotic aspects of this, the most 
erotic of European countries. What is the relation between France's 
eroticism and its eminence in the arts? What is the relation between 
France's erotic literature and its eminence in world literature? We 
do not pretend to know but perhaps this volume may have sug- 
gested a few ideas in the mind of the reader. France typifies the 
highest and noblest peak of Latin civilization in the modern world. 
Its contributions to the spirit of man are immeasurable. And in the 
use of leisure, in the art of living and loving, no nation in Europe 
is its peer. May not this volume contain some kernel of truth to 
account for this? 

Finally, it behooves us to repeat that we have tried to avoid giving 
any offense to the reader despite the nature of this work. It has been 
much more difficult to pull in the reins than the reader imagines, 
for it has only been since the World War that Americans have 
been able to read many of the books mentioned herein; and even 
today, despite the general condemnation of censorship by men in 
all walks of life — except for works of definite and deliberate obs- 
scenity — there still remain blue laws and censors to hound the 
honest and intimidate the free. 










* * 


Privately Printed 



Translated with a Special Preface by A. F. N. 
One of America's Foremost Authorities on Erotology 

Including a Biography of the Author by Alcide Bonneau 
One of the Greatest French Writers on Phallicism 

This immense history is the most documented work on erotics ever fublished by the Panurge 
Press. The author^s enormous researches and lengthy textual matter, and his hundreds of 
notes and annotations, comprise the most comfrehensive guide on the worshif of obscene Gods 
and fhallic religions I 

Although Dulaure's world-famous masterpiece has been translated into many languages in 
abridged editions, this Panurge Press edition is the first in English. It is entirely complete, 
without abridgement, without expurgation, and with no textual passages in Latin! 

When the Gods of Generation first appeared in Paris it was vigorously condemned but the 
author escaped imprisonment by publishing his great erotic masterpiece anonymously. (The 
original title-page is reproduced in this volume.) Twenty years later the work was reissued 
and was judged outrageous to public morals. The edition was seized, suppressed, and de- 
stroyed. Only a few copies escaped — and the author. 

These facts should not prejudice any serious-minded person against this first English transla- 
tion. The author, neither prudent nor prurient, having chosen a theme on the borderland of 
forbidden matters, of necessity had to stir up a bitter brew of unpleasant facts. The reader 
will catch his breath at Dulaure's transcriptions of secret manuscripts and at his discoveries of 
obscenity In the most sacred places. No religion escapes his prying eyes and no story is told, 
no matter how risque, without its source being given. And neither laity nor royalty fares any 
better from Dulaure's merciless pen. For these matters and a thousand other friafeia are 
necessary to build the most remarkable history of obscene Gods and phallic religions ever written. 

Roger Goodland, the greatest living bibliographer of sexual rites and customs, and who has 
annotated over 9,000 of such booh and articles in all languages, declares the Dulaure's master- 
fiece "is the standard work on the subject'^ 

No one can even begin to describe such a work in a single page. Everything would have to 
be extravagant praise for It belongs to that strange class of genuine erotic masterpieces, works 
which endure from century to century with Increasing popularity. One can't even describe 
the Gods of Generation by tabling its contents, for the notes alone occupy 50 pages. 

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Modern sex psychology has opened the door to a new gallery of abnormal women and has 
described them at full scientific length. But writers of fiction have curiously avoided these 
scabrous discoveries — for obvious, unworthy reasons. Now, for the first time in any lan- 
guage, has a work been written which embodies in serious fiction the devious laws of sex 
and the latest discoveries concerning these strange passion-driven women. 

A summary of the stories contained in this large collection can barely beggar its fascinat- 
ing contents. The worldly-wise behavior of a nymphomaniac among a large society of men. 
The combat of oriental voluptuousness with occidental hard-boiled lust. The curative effects 
of sexual gratification on insomnia. The sex psychology of rich old maids and their 
tenacious pursuit of young men. The reaction of normal feminine desire to homosexual 
betrayal. . . . These and other amatory relations are described with such insight that be- 
fore the reader has finished even a couple of stories, he begins to realize that for sheer 
absorbing interest he has read no other volume like it. 

Nymphomania Masochism 

A nymphomaniac gives herself to every mem- How a sensual pianist, finding the possession 

ber of a symphony orchestra, starting at the of pretty girls no aid to stardom, becomes the 

bottom and working up to the temperamental gigolo of a rich old spinster who expects him 

leader. ("Madame Sex") to repay her in non-musical ways. ("Gigolo") 

Hindu Love 
IJranism Portraying a Hindu lover whose yen for tak- 
How a passionate woman, in love with her ing nude movies of his American mistresses 
husband's business partner, tries to arouse leads to an ironic affair with a beautiful mod- 
the latter's passions only to discover that the ern sophisticate. ("Nude Mood") 
men are homosexualist lovers. ("Square Tri- 
angle") Aphrodisia 

An artist's insomnia verges on madness until 
a woman incognito finally effects his cure by 
Lesbianism playing on his passions. ("Insomnia") 
A father, opposing his son's marriage, ex- 
plains the situation to his own mistress who. Conjugal Rape 
unknown to him, is the sapphic lover of his In which a bride and groom during their first 
son's fiancee. ("One Good Turn") night together participate in a most unusual 

display of sexual behavior. ("Bridal Suite") 

Calf Love Incest 

An amatory picture of the younger generation A detailed example of incest between brother 

depicting a small-town calf lover and his and sister, its disastrous effect on normal 

city-bred sophisticated girl friend, ending in marriage, and its strange unconventional 

curious comic relief. ("First Edition") finale. ("Happy Ending") 

MADAME SEX is a private publication for serious adult students of out-of-the-ordlnary lit- 
erature. It is certainly not for those who relish sub rosa productions of gutter obscenity. 
The tone of this erotic treasure-house is singularly robust in spite of its psychopathic nature. 
Stark tragedy jostles comedy and gruesome perversions rub shoulders with normal love, while 
the profundity of the work Is lifted with a lightheartedness which recalls the candor of Chau- 
cer and Boccaccio, and the comic element in Pantagruel and Panurge. For Madame Sex is Ma- 
dame X under the skin and her amatory experiences as described in this volume certainly 
justify her appellation. 

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1/-1 cTltsiorp oj \Ulale ana cJemale \^n 

toiik \^naf)iers on ^UleriaaapnrocitsnafCiJnjiouiaiionf 

(Ounucnismf cyriapisvn ana divers other \^urious 

ana cJkallic K^usionas ^n<^^ 

cJrivaiely C/rinied 

cJne Cyanur^e Cyress t t t \\l lew cJJovk 


A History of Male and Female Cireumclsion iw'ith Chapters on Hermaphrodlsm, 
Infibulatlon, Eunuchism, Priapism and divers other Curious and Phallie Customs. 

Although this curious volume is primarily a history of male and female circumcision, it is really, by virtue 
of its discursive chapters, an astonishing history of genital curiosities. The anonymous doctor-traveller-author 
not only brings to light the most unorthodox phallic habits of numerous races, but takes the reader's breath 
away by his startling revelations of erotic ethnology. 

The chapter on INFIBULATION AND SIMILAR PRACTICES is an eye-opener. Here we find the strangest 
instruments attached to the organs of men to preserve their chastity. Among women the instruments and 
genital incisions are of even greater variety and barbarity: chastity belts, pierced straps, proclaiming bells, 
bamboo sticks, miscellaneous locks, etc. Naturally, these instruments are of devilish cunning and are prevalent 
among oriental harems, Judean virgins, married women of Ethiopia, Mohammedan brides, etc. . . . The 
author also describes methods of sewing up the sexes of women, a procedure as widespread as it is brutal. 

PRIAPISM AND THE HOLY PREPUCE is the next theme. Here are discussed the conflicting claims made 
by various churches to their supposed possession of the holy prepuce and the efScacy of this relic as a mirac- 
ulous cure for any and every ailment of feminine sterility. These presumably authentic relics enabled many 
a roguish priest to practice easy deceptions upon pious and credulous women. Even kings and queens had 
recourse to these holy prepuces, of which our author furnishes historic proof. The whole theme with its 
amusing anecdotes throws a lurid light on the close relationship between phallic worship and medieval 
European Christianity. 

The subject of EUNUCHISM AND CASTRATION is simply amazing. There are different kinds of eunuchs 
and different degrees of castration. According to our author, every race has its own peculiar method; the 
Chinese manner of taille a fletir de ventre is the most primitive whereas the great eunuch factory at Abou- 
Gerghe in the Soudan prescribes the most revolting. To lighten the severity of these operations and other 
descriptions, he chronicles eccentric stories on the castrated Italian choir boys, the Skoptsy sect of Russia, the 
marriage of eunuchs, the remarkable cases of Origines and his monks, and the harem intrigues of eunuchs. 

The account of FEMALE CIRCUMCISION confides some of the least realized secrets of anthropology. 
Though its practice is sporadic in South America and Indo-Asia, it is common among the Mohammedans 
and even more extensive among genuine negro tribes of Africa. Sometimes it is a national custom as among 
the Indians of Ecuador, Peru and Brazil; sometimes a religious ritual as in Egypt and Abyssinia; and some- 
times as in modern Europe, a surgical operation as a prevention of self-abuse among little girls or as a 
cure for adult female erotomania. The topic is a fascinating one, albeit cruel, and a mine of strange infor- 
mation for it covers the practice of female circumcision at all ages, from early girlhood until long after 
marriage, up to its modern introduction into England and the United States. 

Endless have been the stories of double-sexed persons but this chapter on HERMAPHRODISM AND HYPO- 
SPADIAS records some of the most curious cases in all history. Pregnant males, freaks of nature, the devel- 
opment of eunuchism to pederasty, hermaphrodlsm among lower forms of animals, marital difficulties among 
bisexualists, autopsy revelations, medico-legal aspects, etc., etc. — indeed the most mongrel cross-bred human 
beings with the genitals of both men and women are here discussed and recorded with incredible proofs. 

The theme of IMPOTENCE AND FLAGELLATION renders in many a tale and detail the correlation be- 
tween praeptitii tnctsio and anaphrodisia. As in other chapters not mentioned in this announcement through 
lack of space the author illustrates this theme with his personal experiences as a surgeon all over the world, 
and does not hesitate to describe such outrageous customs as point-tying, the Judicial Congress, etc. Elimi- 
nating all prurient appeal throughout the 300-odd pages of this volume, he discusses everything in out- 
spoken, descriptive detail; for many of the genital secrets explained in this private opus will prove wholly 
unknown to the interested reader. 

Privatel}) Printed. Sold to Adults Only. Price $5.00 
'Uhe 'Panurge "Press, 100 Fifth Jive., ^ew York 


cu fpc/tic-^/may s ci/tnaiovy aove/niuve$ \fj fwmcv 
by i^s. Jpa^nuvas. t^vess /iicS> yovk -^^sls 




Here is a record of oriental passions and harem sexuality which could be written only by 
an adventurer and a lover. No other serious author has told us with such candor the 
secrets of harem love and the parts played by eunuchs and odalisques in Turkey. This 
novel is the long, gripping story of a man who loved passionately and trickily, a man to 
whom women were the most important thing in life and who, no matter what the risk or 
danger, slaked his lust at every opportunity. 

Some of the W^omen -who Pass throusSh the Frenchman's Arms 

FAKMA initiates the Frenchman into the mysteries of oriental passion and their unrestrained 
love affair is curiously interrupted 

GUL.TRIC finds her old husband tedious and encourages the Frenchman to make up for the 
former's biological deficiencies 

INDGI proves insatiable in the vicious pleasures of Venus and her demoniac sexuality quickly 
brings her lover to collapse 

FATIMA demands the Frenchman's favors after discovering another woman in his arms, and 
the insatiable reprobate gratifies her 

MIRZALA the Sultan's sister, is confidentially aided by eunuchs and odalisques in carrying 
out her mysterious harem intrigues 

CHARMEN proves to the Frenchman that her languorous intimacies are more thrilling than 
the sensual transports of her mistress 

CHEMAME is the unwitting victim of seduction through a strange arrangement between the 
Frenchman and her mother-in-law 

CHERA at first refuses to surrender because of her immoral Becthaschite sect but afterwards 
gives herself gladly 

NEDOUA towers above the Frenchman's ribald loves and his overwhelming passion for her 
leads to repeated tragic adventures 

ZAMBAK resists in vain and afterwards the Sultan, unaware of her defloration, appoints her 
his chief odalisque 

MARIQUILLA pursues the Frenchman with her brazen advances and thinks nothing of slip- 
ping into his bed stark naked 

NAMEK and the Frenchman carry on their shameless dalliance in the open despite the prying 
eyes of eunuchs and odalisques 

This gorgeous volume of 300 pages achieves pure Turkish feeling through the emplosmient 
of Turkoman type effects. Although neither offensive, obscene nor doctrinal, this volume is 
an indubitable classic of Turkish life, warm with the color and conviction of an eye-witness. 
"The reader is egged on to jump from chapter to chapter in his eager pursuit of the 
kaleidoscopic amours of the protagonist. Action is the keynote of this novel, and speed 
its tempo, and once the pace quickens to full swing, the reader is not given a paragraph 
even to pause for breath."— From the INTRODUCTION. 

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"Che Vanurge 'Press, 100 Fifth Jive., U^ew York 


miiLmmimmmm> mmin 
^w irmm mmmmimik\k < 




HERE is a book that defies description because there is no other book like it — in any language. Several pamphlets 
have been written on the subject but no extended history of it has ever been attempted despite the fact that for hun- 
dreds of years European women have been harnessed and bridled in these chastity belts. 

Chastity belts are metal instruments fitting over the private parts of women and securely kept in place by lock and 
key. Jealous men would lock up their wives in this way before departing on long journeys to prevent them from 
sleeping with other men during their absence. These iron and silver girdles were perforated with tiny holes to permit 
urination, preventing at the same time the pleasures of Venus. Many of them were double models which safeguarded 
both the front and back orifices. 

This history races through the centuries up to the present time, crowding its hundreds of pages with some of the 
strangest information ever put between two covers. For the author, in tracing the origin of these belts, discusses many 
a similar sexual instrument of ancient and primitive days. The book assembles and assorts all the rich material on the 
subject: epigrams, verses, witty anecdotes, memoirs, scandalous court trials, short stories, newspaper accounts, anthro- 
pological tidbits, etc. — a rapid-fire of fable, fiction and fact. 

We hesitate to hint at the more revolting aspects of this unique work: the discovery of chastity belts on the corpses 
of women; the irremovable models on pregnant women; their employment in horrors of sadism, masochism, mutilation, 
and as instruments of torture. 

But this history is much more than a catalogue of Inquisitorial ferocity. It is as comprehensive as Sex itself, and 
counterbalances its horrors with hundreds of laughable indelicacies — for chastity belts only too often fanned the fires of 
a woman's lust. Duplicate keys were often available, locksmiths easily bribed, and belts ripped off by impatient lovers. 
. . . Anticipating the reader's disbelief, the author substantiates his tales by reproducing etchings, woodcuts, museum 
specimens, private models, engravings, etc., of dozens of chastity belts of every shape and style in FULL-PAGE 

Scattered throughout this history are spicy short stories which in themselves comprise an excellent volume of erotica. 
Some of them are: The Painter's Ass by Verville, the futility of female belly-painting as a scare to lovers; A Brutal 
Punishment by Giovanni Fiorentino, a passionate drama of padlocked love; The Use of Dirty Water from The Hundred 
Merry Talcs, proving that the cunning of women will always outwit the vigilance of husbands; Horns rather than Crosses 
by Comazano, in which a simpleton tries to improve upon the chastity belt. These and other stories culled from rare 
forbidden classics lend a wealth of color to this gold mine of miscellaneous tidbits. 

The author's place among authorities of erotica is sufficient to stamp any of his works of unique interest. No other living 
writer in America today possesses so wide a knowledge of literary curiosa and esoterica. Eschewing all pornographic and 
prurient appeal, he records on almost every page some casual anecdote from an erotic classic, some amusing paraphrase of 
an unknown genital law, some curious reference to an unmentionable perversion. Indeed, the index pages of CHASTITY 
BELTS read like some elaborate encyclopedia of all the sexual sciences. 

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Vhe "Panurge 'Press, 100 Fifth Jive., 3^ew York 


EnglisUed from \\\e FrcncVi of \\\e 



For Private Collectors of Erotica 



ROYAL BED OP ROSES is a riot of erotic adventures in the guise of a fairy tale. Two rival 
fairies, each desiring the Princess as her daughter-in-law, transform their sons into various 
animals in order to attain their ends. Follows a series of quick, tumbling amorous frus- 
trations, ending with the marriage of one of them to the Princess. But every time he attempts 
to culminate his duties as a husband, the other fairy plays the most hilarious pranks upon 
him. The humor is simply irresistible. 

In despair, the husband sends for the Grand Instructor who overcomes the fairy's artifices in 

a manner which infuriates the husband Meanwhile, his rival obtains the Princess" private 

favors until . . . 

The Grand Instructor, whose advice on marital indelicacies is solicited by all the gallant ladies 
and courtiers, is a scream in the higher mysteries of esoteric passion, and performs his ama- 
tory miracles with the most sophisticated tomfoolery Some of the high lights of this ero- 
tic fairy tale are: 








RHAPSODY RISQUE is a mad whirl of sexual lubricity. It narrates the adventures of a 
Prince and Princess in their efforts to marry. The Princess has been brought up as an inno- 
cent prude but a mischievous fairy breaks down her love resistance and she charmingly 
surrenders to her sweetheart. Soon another fairy, jealous of their happiness, separates them. 

Then the fun begins. Every page adds intrigue to intrigue, indiscretion to indiscretion, 
through a wild whirl of ticklish, embarrassing vicissitudes. . . . 

At length the Princess is abducted to the Temple of Isis in the Community of Virgins. And 
what virgins! . . . 

Meanwhile the Prince, beset by a veritable rhapsody of risque adventures, is finally discovered 
by a friendly fairy who transforms him into a dog and leads him to the Community of Vir- 
gins. As a dog he wanders about bedrooms and boudoirs and is privileged to witness what 
no man may. . . . The finale of this novelette is a whirlwind of complicated, convulsive erotics. 

This volume is a superlative achievement of modern typographic art, both in elegance of for- 
mat and in richness of binding. The entire book is printed in color. . . . Although the contents 
of EROTIC FAIRY TALES are thoroughly facetious, they trespass neither on the domain of 
pornography nor vague symbolism. An explanatory introduction containing a biographical 
sketch of the author is included in this volume. 

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Privately Printed ty 


New York 


Black Lust is one of those bizarre works of fiction and fact whose haunting details live with the reader forever. It is an 
encyclopedia of venery, a kaleidoscope of perversions, a jungle of horrors. This description does not exaggerate; if any- 
thing, it is an understatement of this tremendous work. The publishers assure the reader of this prospectus that no book 
which he has read in many years can compare with Black Lust in disturbing, diabolic sexuality. 

The first chapter opens with scenes in London between two lovers. After a few drinks James Churchill tries to force 
his sweetheart, Grace, in the most brazen way. Disillusioned, she goes to Khartoum where she eventually becomes a nurse. 
James follows a few months later to seek forgiveness. Presently the black dervishes of the neighboring tribes sack the 
city and put all Christians to the sword, reserving the pretty girls for oriental purposes. James, protecting Grace, is 
brutally murdered while she is raped and led away by one of the chiefs to ornament his harem. 

The love and hate of this white woman for the black Mohammedan chief forms the overtone of this historic novel of 
300-odd pages. Horror-stricken at first in being forced to serve every whim of her master, the latter by dint of flagella- 
tion and similar brutalities arouses in her a lustful and willing submission. After his death the black chief's brother falls 
heir to the harem and adds new tortures and perversions to break her rebellious spirit. 

The background of Black Lust describes the savage struggle for supremacy among the native tribes in the Valley of the 
Nile before the turn of this century. With its sharp, nervou style, all quivering with intensity, it vividly reproduces the 
nightmare terror of those wild times. The bamboo torture, t e pebble death, the head-drum rack, the genital punishment, 
the milk test, the skull trophies, the skin-slicing salt revenge — nothing since the Spanish Inquisition can compare with 
these and a host of other sadic torments. 

And perversions! What a theatre of sexual scenes this book presents! Here is a spectacle of the Venus aversa, there a 
picture of necrophilia — the violation of corpses, a few pages further on a frenzy of flagellation. And through it all, the 
mad lust of black men for white women. The whole book throbs and surges with it, like a tidal wave. No pantomime 
this or extravaganza of imagination. The scabrous detail, the seething passion, the quick flash and fade-out of tropical 
sensuality are all true, all authentic, all taken from records and eye-witnesses. 

This kaleidoscopic background of cruelty and perversion is interwoven with the stark secrets of the harem. Grace's 
adventures therein, the clandestine lesbianism of the inmates, the parts played by the eunuchs, the diversified types of 
women — all these are colorfully painted with a magic of representment. The deeper tones of Grace's private experiences 
with the blackamoor lord of the harem, their animal love and lust, must be left to the reader's own impressions. 

Lovers of romantic literature will not find Black Lust easily digestible for it is strong with merciless fact like heady 
wine and is intended for strong men only, men with mature, shock-proof tastes. Nevertheless its hundreds of pages are 
not pornography for it is not concerned with problem or propaganda of any sort but with the true and unrelenting events 
which took place in the Valley of the Nile within the recent memory of men. A mighty document whose haunting horror 
and sexuality will live with the reader joreverl 

Privately Printed. Sold to Adults Only. Price $5.00 
"Uhe Tanurge Tress, 100 Fifth Jive., ^ew York 






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